Fraud-accused priest's schools scrapped

2012-05-08 21:52

Johannesburg - Two Gauteng schools owned by a 73-year-old priest accused of bribery and misusing education subsidies have been scrapped, Education MEC Barbara Creecy said on Tuesday.

"Our investigation revealed alleged... fraud, corruption and non-compliance with the conditions for registration and subsidies in both Ekhukhanyeni Schools, in Ramaphosa and Denver," she said in a statement.

"After following due process with the owners of the schools, the schools were de-registered. The criminal investigation against the owner... Pastor Josias Mabaso, is still in progress."

She said a departmental official involved in the matter was suspended and charged with corruption.

Mabaso was arrested in a sting operation on the East Rand in October last year after he allegedly tried to pay a bribe to prevent the disclosure of R20m collected through corruption and fraud.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel McIntosh Polela claimed at the time that the priest initially offered to pay a bribe of R1.2m and then upped it to R7m.

He said Mabaso received a substantial amount from the Gauteng education department to run his two schools.

After the incident the department appointed George Fivaz from Marumofase Fivaz Security Solutions to undertake a full forensic audit at the two schools.

Following a rapid audit of 205 subsidised independent schools, 34 were also referred to Fivaz for a full forensic audit.

He found that seven schools had serious instances of financial mismanagement.

"The department, in the interests of the education of the children enrolled in the affected schools, formally proposed that the affected schools voluntarily place themselves under administration," Creecy said.

"This process will involve the department appointing independent administrators to receive the schools subsidy and undertake all financial management on their behalf."

She said three schools voluntarily requested the appointment of an administrator. They were Mahlasedi High School, Ithuba-Lethu Secondary School, and New Model Private.

"Phakamani Education Centre is still to confirm whether it accepts the condition of the administrator. Three schools, Crystal Springs Private School, Sinqobile and Vutomi, have rejected the offer from the department," Creecy said.

"We have referred two of the three schools to the SA Police Service for further investigation."

Five schools were found to have sufficient financial management.

Creecy said forensic investigations into the remaining 22 schools were still in progress.

"We will be reviewing the registration status of all the schools where we are initiating steps to withdraw subsidies. Closing a registered independent school is not a decision we take lightly," she said.

"We will report back on the outcome of the remaining 22 schools in due course. It is estimated that the work will take six months to complete."

Read more on:    george fivaz  |  barbara creecy  |  johannesburg  |  education

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