Security at KZN matric exam centres beefed up amid disruption threats
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu and the provincial legislature have assured the public that security was beefed up following allegations that alleged tenderpreneurs were threatening to disrupt the matric exams, which started in earnest on Wednesday.
The group reportedly threatened to disrupt exams as they were not given a tender to transport exam papers across the province. It was believed that the threats, which were posted on social media, came from the Delangokubona Business Forum.
However, the controversial forum, which is notorious for using underhand tactics to get government tenders, has since distanced itself from the threats.
Talking to Talking Point host Bongi Gwala on SAFM on Wednesday morning, Mshengu said head of department Dr Vusumuzi Nzama and other senior managers received an email last week which was purportedly signed by Ama Delangokubona.
“That email was demanding a meeting with the department so that the department can explain the contract of transporting exam papers to school as they believe that they should have been given a particular percentage in that contract,” said told the radio listeners.
Mshengu said he told Nzama that the department would never succumbed to threats. He said he later got two SMSs “saying that we are ignoring them.
“They said they are now going to attack and burn the trucks that are transporting our examination papers and they are demanding that we meet them in three days time.
“Unfortunately when we were trying to trace that particular number with the police it was discovered that the SMS was sent in the area of Chesterville, but we could not locate the person because he was probably using a burner (untraceable) phone,” said Mshengu.
Mshengu said the department had since taken a resolution to step up security at all examination centres in the province "and ensure that all our trucks that are transporting papers are properly guarded because for us we view these threats very seriously".
“We take note of the fact that the leadership of Ama Delangokubona yesterday distanced itself from these threats, but these were not fictions, and we were not imagining as these are something that were written to us,” he said.
Mshengu said transportation of exam papers was a sensitive issue that cannot just be given anyone.
“The department has followed due processes in terms of awarding this particular tender.
“The reputation of Ama Delangokubona in the province is quite bad as there has been disruption of projects and extortion of monies, and we felt that we were really being taken for a ride if we were to give in,” he said.
Mshengu said there would also be high police visibility around exam centres.
Provincial education portfolio committee chairperson Jomo Sibiya commended the education and community safety and liaison departments for being vigilant “to make sure that they don’t succumb to any threat”.
“No amount to threat or any disruption can be allowed to take place in our government.
“We are in a state where we said education is our apex programme, and we need to make sure that our learners get proper education, they write exams under conducive environment and nobody threatens them.
“Anybody who attempts to disrupt examination is an enemy of the state, and we can never tolerate that,” said Sibiya.