KZN Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane

PIETERMARITZBURG - The education department's decision to supply sanitary towels to learners amounting to millions of rands, was questioned on Tuesday. 

The department appeared before the finance committee as part of the budget hearings in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature on Tuesday, where it emerged that the department spent R40 million on sanitary towels in the 2017/18 financial year.  

Nonzwakazi Swartbooi said the department should attend to matters that are more pressing such as the provision of learner support materials and appointing teachers. 

"You cannot tell us that you have a high vacancy rate and yet go and spend millions of rands on sanitary towels," she said. 

READ MORE: KZN Education Department launches probe into sanitary pad expenditure

It also emerged that there was an oversupply of the sanitary towels with some of them being stored in libraries in schools across the province, while in some instances they were provided to younger learners. 

"What is grade one learner supposed to do with sanitary towels", asked Swartbooi.

Committee member Maggie Govender said they were not hostile to the provision of sanitary towels, but simply believed that it could be handled by other departments. 

"We have the department of health as well as social [development] department and they seem to be the appropriate departments to carry out such a function,"  she said.

Head of department Dr. Enoch Nzama told the committee that an investigation was already underway "to determine what went wrong", regarding the oversupply.  

Committee chairperson Sipho Nkosi said the oversupply of sanitary towels was feeding to the perception that he was running a system that was corrupt. 

African News Agency/ANA