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Durban - Contracts awarded by the Department of Education for the school nutrition programme at several KwaZulu-Natal schools were nullified in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday.

Judge Yvonne Mbatha set aside contracts for 10 schools.

Last year, 82 companies that failed to win contracts to supply the scheme sued the department, alleging the winning bidders were “illegitimate” and lacked funds and experience.

One application, brought by Primazane Trading, several school governing bodies and the National Teachers Union, sought to cancel an existing contract and restart the process.

In her affidavit, Zanele Madide of Primazane Trading, a former recipient of a feeding scheme contract, alleged that the department had acted unlawfully by awarding contracts to benefit certain people. She called for a complete review of the tender process.

“Unsuccessful tenderers (such) as myself, who complied fully with the requirements, have simply been ignored in order that employees within the department benefit particular individuals,” Madide said.

She said the nutrition scheme was a noble idea, but the corruption arising out of the process not only burdened the province, but prejudiced pupils who relied on the daily meal provided at schools.

Education Department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi had not responded to requests for comment on the ruling in time for publication.

The judge set aside contracts awarded for six schools in the Ulundi region, three others in Zululand, and Inxamalala Primary in Greytown.

The Ulundi schools were Indleyamandla Primary, Insukungi Kahle Primary, Siyangemphulelo Primary, Phikwase High, Ngogoma Primary and Phophomeni Primary.

Those in Zululand were Ivungu High, Ceza Primary and Mnyamana

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