Nkosinathi Sishi

Durban - Thousands of teachers had received final written warnings from the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Education after conducting business with the state without authorisation, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard yesterday.

The report was given by the head of human resources, Nathi Ngcobo.

The chairman of the committee, Sipho “KK” Nkosi, said the province wanted teachers who would focus on their core business, which was teaching.

“Scopa is calling for the immediate dismissal of these people so that they can have all the time to go to business,” he said.

Last year, the department wrote to 3 244 employees – most of whom are teachers – asking that they explain why they were in business with the department without approval.

At the time, 2 502 responded, giving explanations, while 742 did not respond. A sample of 108 employees appeared before the disciplinary hearing.

Most claimed they did not know that they needed permission, while others said they had resigned from their companies.

All 3 244 employees were then given final written warnings with the implication being that they could face dismissals if they defaulted again.

A legal opinion sought and received by the department stated that it could only recover funds paid to employees who were awarded contracts in their personal capacity and not those who were members or directors of corporate entities.

The department said in future it would recoup the full value of contracts from transgressing employees because determining how much profit was derived from these contracts was proving difficult.

The department was appearing before Scopa to address some of the audit queries raised in the auditor-general’s report. The department received a negative audit finding.

Nkosi said the department should take a cue from its counterpart in the Western Cape which had received an unqualified audit.

Nkosinathi Sishi said the management of the department was “angry and upset” by its very own performance.

He said this was the only blemish on the department’s somewhat good performance.

MEC Peggy Nkonyeni said her department was committed to obtaining a clean audit by this year. This was despite having received negative audit opinions for the past three years.

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