DURBAN 27-11-2012 Truro House Arrest. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Durban - A Department of Education employee who allegedly stole eight matric exam papers and sold them to pupils across the province, was arrested by Berea detectives on Tuesday afternoon.

It has been alleged that the geography papers one and two, life sciences papers one and two, maths paper two, information technology, Afrikaans and economics papers were leaked to pupils at several schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

The father of a Durban High School pupil and his girlfriend, an Education Department employee, were taken in for questioning after an invigilator allegedly found one of the pupils with a leaked paper during an exam.

Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed they were investigating a case of fraud.

The news comes on the day matric exams end in KZN.

Three DHS matric pupils, who allegedly had one of the leaked papers, could be disqualified from the 2012 exams.

They could also face criminal charges and be banned from writing the exams for three years, Department of Education spokes-man, Muzi Mahlambi, said this morning.

He confirmed the official’s arrest and said they would launch an internal investigation. Police were conducting a criminal investigation after the joint operation, Mahlambi said.

The suspect had been employed at Truro House since 1997.

He said the department was confident it had run a credible exam and did not believe the suspect was in possession of original papers.

“We believe he had copies of the reserve papers which we keep on standby in the event of a leak.

“He tried to make himself a famous person by trying to beat our system. The truth will come out in court.”

But, he said, the man’s actions were criminal as he had been in possession of State property.

Mahlambi said markers would be vigilant and look for any patterns indicating pupils had cheated.

A source told the Daily News, the leak could be widespread, including several private schools in the province.

A cellphone seized from the man allegedly contained several e-mails, SMSes and bbms, requesting copies of the matric exam papers.

Police hope to close in on more suspects in coming days.

According to the source, the investigation had started when an economics exam invigilator at DHS spotted a pupil last Wednesday with a suspicious piece of paper.

The invigilator alerted the principal and the pupil was searched and allegedly found with the leaked economics paper and crib notes hidden underneath his answer sheet.

The school alerted the department that afternoon.

The source said the acting principal of DHS, Mrs M Vermaak, opened a case of fraud at the Berea police station on Monday.

When asked for comment, Vermaak said she had no knowledge of the allegations.

The source said the pupils had met on three separate occasions to negotiate the price of the leaked paper.

The final meeting was at a Durban bird park, where the paper was allegedly handed over.

The boy claimed he and a friend had bought it for R5 000 from another matric pupil at the school. They had shared the costs, the source said.

A serial number unique to Truro House printing machines was found on the leaked paper, which also contained lengthy crib notes, allegedly in the pupil’s handwriting.

All matric papers are printed two days before the exams.

Further investigation led police to the pupil who allegedly sold the paper to his fellow pupils. He claimed his father had given him the leaked paper.

He was allegedly told to hand it to another pupil, in exchange for R5 000. His father and the father’s girlfriend, an employee at Truro House, were both questioned yesterday.

The arrested 35-year-old official, of Ndwedwe on the North Coast, was apparently involved in printing the matric exam papers at Truro House.

Police were expected to return to Truro House on Wednesday, to retrieve CCTV footage of the printing works. The suspect allegedly copied the papers and sold them to the man’s girlfriend.

A source said the arrested man had admitted to stealing eight papers and selling them for between R1 200 and R2 000 each.

The man and woman questioned by police allegedly sold the papers for between R2 500 and R5 000 each. - Daily News