KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

MEC unpacks boot camp scandal report

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Apr 14, 2021

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DURBAN - THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spent R1.2 million on an “accommodation facility” to house Grade 12 pupils at a boot camp last year that has been found to have been unsuitable for human habitation.

Three officials have been accused of violating tender processes, turning a blind eye to cheaper accommodation and engaging in fraudulent behaviour to ensure that Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre, under the Harry Gwala District, was the preferred bidder.

An investigation uncovered a litany of irregularities leading to the appointment of Boniwe as a service provider.

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu tabled an investigation report into the matter yesterday. He said based on the findings, the report recommended that disciplinary processes be instituted against the district director, the acting subject adviser and the assistant director for supply chain management.

The department said the office of the head of department (HOD) had been directed to act against these individuals. However, it refused to divulge what action had been taken.

Last year, the department organised a boot camp for pupils in the Harry Gwala District. Some of the pupils were placed in Boniwe. Soon afterwards, photographs emerged of overflowing toilets and pupils with no masks crammed in a tent, prompting the department to shut down the centre.

Mshengu said the report found that the district director, as the chairperson of the adjudication committee, flouted the procurement processes in the appointment of Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre to host the Spring Camp, and Li Africa and Zinolwazi to transport the pupils.

The report also revealed that Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre was not tax compliant and there was no evidence of a tax clearance certificate.

The district director, said the report, invited service providers to quote and suggested the amounts per pupil, which amounts to cover quoting.

The service providers were issued with multiple orders for the same service within the same period in order to keep the amount below the threshold of R500 000 to avoid going to tender as required. According to the report, the Boniwe Centre was appointed before submitting quotations.

The district director made a submission to the HOD to appoint Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre on September 23, 2020 and the quotation was received on October 14.

“The Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre quoted the total amount of R1 260 000 and the district director acted beyond her delegated authority to approve the centre and therefore the splitting of quotation was done intentionally,” said Mshengu.

“There is evidence that the matric intervention programme team conducted the assessment and found the facility not suitable to host the spring camp. It is evident that Ixopo High School facility was available, but the district had no intentions to utilise it, which was in fatal conflict with the position of the department to use available schools as part of curbing costs,” he said.

Mshengu said the department would engage with the police in an effort to recover the money lost and pursue criminal charges.

IFP education spokesperson Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa said those implicated in wrongdoing should be charged.

DA Education spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said the findings confirmed that the department was a cauldron for corruption, and those implicated should face the full might of the law.

THE MERCURY

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