Attacked over feeding scheme tenders
Judy Dlamini, KwaZulu-Natal’s deputy director-general of education, survived an alleged assassination attempt this week. She believes the shooting was related to the radical reforms she introduced in school nutrition programmes in the province.
Dlamini, whose car was shot at on Monday as she drove from Pietermaritzburg to a meeting in Durban to discuss the province’s turnaround strategy for education, was not injured in the attack.
Dlamini, who is responsible for school support systems throughout the province, had until recently been protected by bodyguards after the department became aware that there were plans to have her killed over changes she had introduced to the province’s school nutrition system. Under her tenure, the school feeding system was changed from one where single caterers were supplying up to 300 schools, to one where the catering was being done at a ward level.
“When I was promoted to deputy director-general in 2011, the then MEC wanted to tweak the policies on nutrition. We realised that the programme, which is part of poverty alleviation, was not benefiting the people who were meant to benefit. We wanted to introduce a slicing up of the cake as we had a situation where people who were already very rich were feeding 300 schools at a time with an annual turnover of R25 million to R35 million,” Dlamini said.
“We felt we needed to localise things at ward level so that the caterers were people from the area. That is what local economic development is all about. There were reports that some very rich people were unhappy about losing a lot of money, and that there was a plan to take my life in retaliation. I was placed under protection for around 18 months until it was felt that the threat had dissipated because the function is now under the superintendent-general, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, after being moved from my office.” Dlamini said she could see no other reason for the shooting. “I am a person who believes that in government one should work hard for one’s salary, and that people who are getting paid by the state have to deliver. I do have fights with people at work, but it’s all in the line of duty and not something so serious,” she said.
“There was no indication that this was coming. I can see no other reason. This came as a shock.”
Dlamini said although she had had a bad feeling on the day of the attack, she was “puzzled” by the incident. She has been allocated bodyguards again by the department. Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said: “The unknown suspect in a white BMW fired shots towards her vehicle, but she did not sustain any injuries. A case of attempted murder was opened for investigation.”
Education department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi did not return calls from City Press requesting comment.