News24

Ex-top cop to probe school subsidy fraud

2011-10-06 16:09

Johannesburg - Former police commissioner George Fivaz has been appointed to probe the alleged embezzlement of education funds by a priest.

"The investigation will look whether anyone from the department may have assisted in this crime through commission or omission," Gauteng education spokesperson Charles Phahlane said on Thursday.

"A review will be conducted of the finances of all independent schools in Gauteng that have been subsidised."

Phahlane confirmed that around R20m had been allocated to the 73-year-old priest to run two schools.

One was in the Ramaphosa informal settlement in Germiston and the other in Denver, south of Johannesburg.

Both schools would be closed down, said Phahlane.

"We will be convening meetings with affected learners and parents next week to offer them alternative placement in state schools.

"Our immediate focus will be on the Grade 12s in both schools who can be accommodated in the matric revision camps that we are running in the province to consolidate matric learning."

The priest was arrested in a sting operation on Wednesday.

Phahlane said: "We had paid the first three quarters of the money, but the last quarter has been frozen because of this."

The subsidy was dependent on how many children attended the schools, and where they were based. One in an informal settlement would receive a higher amount than a school in a suburb.

Concern

The priest was arrested when he tried to pay a bribe so that the multi-million rand corruption and fraud would not be disclosed, said Hawks spokesperson Colonel McIntosh Polela.

The priest initially offered to pay R1.2m and upped it to R7m. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying R50 000.

Polela said the man received R20m from the Gauteng education department to run the two schools, and there were allegations that the money was misused.

"We are investigating the matter. This involves the department of education and the department of local government. The buildings he uses belong to the department of local government," he said.

Phahlane said the department would co-operate with police to ensure a successful prosecution.

The SA Revenue Service (Sars) had received a report against the priest, spokesperson Adrian Lackay said.

"Sars views the complaint and the arrest in a very serious light and wants to pursue the matter further."

He said Sars would not tolerate the abuse of the national fiscus for self-enrichment.

The priest was expected to appear in the Boksburg Magistrate's Court on Friday.

The Democratic Alliance voiced concern over the way subsidies paid to Gauteng schools were being controlled.

"This [the arrest] could have been avoided in the first place had departmental officials done a more thorough job in checking that money was properly spent," DA MPL Khume Ramulifho said in a statement.

He said it was important to hold officials to account. The party welcomed the appointment of Fivaz to investigate the matter and determine the nature and scale of the problem.

Comments
  • Frans Smith - 2011-10-06 16:17

    jEEZ, that is africa for you ...., even the church boys cant keep there hands of the spoils?

      Slartibartfast - 2011-10-06 16:20

      REAL concern here is how quickly they acted here .... but JZ is taking AGES to get the investigation into Government and ANC fraud going! Hmmmmmmmmm ...... JUST depends who you pay off is all.

      zaatheist - 2011-10-06 19:05

      What qualifies sky fairy believers for a higher moral standard? All the self-appointed representatives of all manner of gods and versions of gods, the reverends, pastors, priests, bishops, popes perpetuate the biggest fraud in history on a daily basis. Religion would have died out centuries ago if there was no money to extracted from the flocks of the gullible.

  • Grayman - 2011-10-06 16:26

    Name and shame the man. Reports need to show if this creature was acting on his own or through his church. By just reporting that he is a priest brings the entire faith into disrepute, which, in my humble opinion, is a tad unfair.

      erazor - 2011-10-06 17:05

      It is illegal to name an accused until after their first appearance in court. This guy will be named after he's appeared.

      Grayman - 2011-10-06 18:21

      Fair comment erazor. Bring the court appearance on already!

  • grod - 2011-10-06 16:43

    Welcome back George! Now sort out all the other k*k too!

  • MSGRule - 2011-10-06 16:45

    Isn't it ironic that the old police chief form the bad bad government is heading the investigation. Be sure to see a whole lot more dirty laundry coming out after this. Just hope he doesn't get muffled

  • Sean - 2011-10-06 17:18

    Throw the book at this so-called man of the cloak! May he not only serve a jail term for the rest of his/her life but community service as well and his/her house etc sold to recoup the money!

  • MrSkydancer - 2011-10-06 19:23

    The "priest" is not the only one to be blamed in this fraud. The Gauteng Education Dept must also be blamed. This guy have been doing this for 5 years and without properly audited books who in the dept signed off the grants. They are just as guilty as him.

  • Redwine - 2011-10-06 19:37

    "George Fivaz, the first national police commissioner appointed in the democratic SA, is today executive chairman of Maromufase Holdings, a business with interests in safety and security, energy and mining". Why are we now outsourcing crime investigations or do we not trust the cops?

  • Andrew - 2011-10-06 20:50

    Bring back you school inspectors ANC that way you will kno how the money is being spent

  • sky_7471 - 2011-10-07 08:21

    Now lets see who he was aiding him in this low life crime...me thinks there must be a politician in the scam!!

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