Millions blown on audits
Education MEC comes under fire
THE GAUTENG Department of Education spends R10 million a year on forensic investigations, frauddetection reviews and tender-compliance reviews in schools.
But school governing body (SGB) members, who are often the whistleblowers of the alleged corruption, say that either nothing is done after the audit, or the SGB is dissolved, leaving them powerless.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has indicated that the department had conducted 159 audits in the past five years. There were 21 done in 2009, 22 in 2010, 38 in 2011, 57 in 2012 and 21 last year.
Lesufi said 29 principals had been implicated in wrongdoing through the reports.
These details emerged during a debate in the legislature.
The forensic audits are kept hidden from the public, and not even the schools themselves are allowed access to them.
Whistle-blowers have, however, shown The Star three forensic audits recently conducted at schools in Gauteng that appear to show widespread financial impropriety and mismanagement.
Of the schools – Glenvista High School, Parkdale Primary School and Brakpan High School – only Glenvista’s audit had been made publicly available, and this was because a parent initiated a Promotion of Access to Information Act application to get the audit.
Another parent said even though the audit showed financial problems at the school, nothing was done and a second audit was then commissioned. The SGB at Brakpan High School was dissolved after the audit and the school was placed under administration.
“I don’t know why we are even doing these forensic audits,” a parent at one of the schools said. “We are wasting public money because the recommendations in the reports are not being followed through.”
A teacher at a school that had a forensic audit completed last year after he blew the whistle on alleged embezzlement of school funds said they had never seen the audit results.
The teacher said he found that the authorities had targeted him instead of acting against the alleged perpetrator after he blew the whistle, and he ultimately lost his job.
“I reported what was happening at the school to various departments. I went to the President’s Office, the Public Protector and the Department of Education. I was told in the end that I was the problem, and I was forced from my job,” the teacher said.
In recent weeks, DA provincial education spokesman Khume Ramulifho has asked Lesufi a number of questions in the legislature about the status of financial audits conducted at schools.
The MEC said 29 principals had been implicated in wrongdoing through the reports.
Lesufi also said R10m a year was used for the forensic investigations, fraud-detection reviews and tender-compliance reviews.
Some of the findings against schools this year were for governance and financial mismanagement, non-compliance with policies and procedures, lack of supporting evidence for expenditure, and tender irregularities.
During a legislature debate this week, Ramulifho said he believed the MEC was protecting fraudsters and corrupt officials.
“School governing bodies which exposed these financial irregularities are being dissolved and are denied access to these reports,” he stated.
“The MEC is quick to dissolve the SGBs but takes no action against the real offenders.
“The department is failing to protect whistle-blowers or take a firm stand against corrupt officials,” Ramulifho said.
Lesufi replied that he would try to make sure that those who had been identified as perpetrators would face the consequences.
Ramulifho asked that Lesufi put measures in place to protect any whistle-blowers. He also requested that these reports be made public.