MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko
MEC Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Report exposes abuse of school money

By Thabiso Thakali Time of article published Aug 8, 2015

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Johannesburg - An explosive forensic report on alleged corruption at Glenvista High is understood to show how high-profile members of the school governing body managed to pull off a R1.9-million “heist” of school money.

The findings, made by financial services firm KPMG in a forensic audit ordered by the Gauteng Department of Education, are to be released on Monday by MEC Panyaza Lesufi. This was the second such audit.

It is understood the report implicates high-profile people who served on the school’s governing body, including a politician and an adviser to a minister, a board member of a financial company, and a director in a state-owned enterprise.

The alleged wrongdoing occurred in 2013.

According to whistle-blowers, a drawdown of more than R1.9m was recorded in the school’s investment account as “disinvestment” - without approval or trace of what it was spent on. The investment account was alleged to have been opened by the governing body without the approval of the department - yet individuals on the governing body were benefiting from it.

Another damning finding relates to the school’s use of a debt-collection company whose director was a co-opted member of the governing body, in contravention of the law governing public schools.

Lesufi is also to reveal on Monday findings on how payments were made, using the school’s staff loan account, of levies on an individual’s holiday timeshare – acquired using the school’s money – and installations on a carport and hunting fees.

Another finding relates to the purchase of air tickets for private use.

It is also alleged that the school opened more than one bank account without the department’s approval.

It is understood that more than R200 000 was paid irregularly to a level 1 teacher, and R31 000 to an administrator – over and above the salaries they received from the department.

The school is alleged to have run up R4.9m in debts over three years. Whistle-blowers want this to be recovered from governing body members who approved decisions to pay bonuses, in contravention of the law. The alleged irregularities at the school had taken place for almost five years, according to investigators.

One of the whistle-blowers said on Friday he was relieved that the department would make the report public. He described the alleged unaccounted expenditure as a “heist”.

He said he had suffered for years and had been victimised for blowing the whistle.

The DA’s Gauteng spokesman on education, Khume Ramulifho, said Lesufi had been reluctant when first approached by the whistle-blowers, but the challenge for him now was to act on the findings.

“The MEC must trust the whistle-blowers. We need to build confidence in whistle-blowing to fight corruption,” he said.

“This is about sending a strong message now that he won’t tolerate corruption and maladministration.

“And the real test is what will be done with those implicated.”

The department said on Friday it would present comprehensive details of the “shocking findings”.

Saturday Star

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