Cape Town -111025. Matric students writing their final Accountancy exam at Zola Secondary School in Khayelitsha. Reporter: Michelle Jones.Pic: Jason Boud

Durban - Every single Durban High School (DHS) matric paper will receive special attention after a major security breach within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s matric “inner circle” which saw eight exam papers being leaked.

The department warned on Thursday that a task force formed to look at the leak had uncovered promising information, and that there would be “more casualties”.

A teachers’ union has also promised to hand over to the department “explosive” information it claims to have, saying it had for a long time been calling for an investigation of cheating at former Model C schools.

On Tuesday, three people were arrested for allegedly selling leaked exam papers to matric pupils for between R1 200 and R5 000 per subject. It is believed eight papers had been leaked.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu confirmed on Thursday that one of the papers, economics, found in possession of a DHS pupil, was the original and not a back-up paper as initially thought. A police source said it had transpired that the papers were all original, but this had yet to be confirmed.

The department said on Thursday that it was investigating whether a syndicate had been operating.

While the exams, which ended on Wednesday, had gone smoothly in the province, Mchunu said no one could have anticipated the latest scandal.

“We have the tightest security systems in place. But unfortunately the very people in our inner circle, who know all the security details, have been identified as the culprits. They used inside information to further their own gains,” the MEC said in an interview.

Mchunu welcomed the swift arrests.

The MEC said the two department employees would also face serious consequences, not just criminally but also internally.

“Every single exam paper at DHS will be fully scrutinised. We have to be satisfied there is no trace of dishonesty. We will wait for that process to be completed before any further decisions are taken.”

On Thursday, Department of Education employee Nqaba Magubane, 32, of Ndwedwe, Mo Maharaj, 47, of Riverside, and his girlfriend, also a department employee, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on charges of theft and fraud.

Magubane and Maharaj were released on R2 000 bail each. Charges against the woman were, however, dropped. She is expected to turn State witness.

The matter was postponed to December 12 for further investigation.

Their arrest came less than 24 hours after the Department of Education reported the leak to police.

Three DHS pupils have been implicated. They, too, are expected to be State witnesses.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in KZN called for a wider probe of the alleged leaks.

“We have… been calling for an investigation into the sale of matric examination papers in the former Model C schools.

“Even now, we are sitting with explosive information that we would like to pass to authorities so that they can investigate these allegations,” its provincial secretary, Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, said.

Anthony Pierce, provincial chief executive of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, described the leak as unfortunate.

“This leak will have a serious ripple effect. It will not only affect the guilty pupils but all Grade 12 pupils in the province, their teachers and parents,” he said.

Pierce praised police for the swift arrests and said it was imperative that the department establish the extent of the leak.

Education Department spokesman, Muzi Mhlambi, confirmed that both employees, who were based at the Truro House offices in Durban, had been suspended.

He said a task team had already been assigned to conduct an internal investigation to assess the magnitude of the leak and how many people were involved.

“Our team has already interviewed one of the pupils who had the leaked paper and he is leading us to some vital links in this case,” Mhlambi said.

“We are digging deeper into this issue. We want to establish if a syndicate is behind this… we have uncovered some interesting information.” - Daily News