Auditors can’t find R80 mln

2009-11-16 00:00

TWO senior KwaZulu-Natal Education officials have been suspended over allegations of mismanagement of funds, despite denials by the department spokesperson last week.

The Democratic Alliance’s KZN spokesman for education, Tom Stokes, confirmed to The Witness that the suspension of uMlazi district director Mlungisi Ntombela and the senior manager in charge of procurement in the office of the chief financial officer, Nisha Maikoo, were announced at the portfolio meeting on Friday.

This, he said, was as a result of the first phase of preliminary investigations into allegations of the misappropriation of funds — as brought by the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union — being sealed.

The department appointed auditors in August to see whether there was any merit in a forensic investigation to look into the allegations of malpractice, which were largely targeting the procurement office.

According to Stokes, the initial report cites R80 million that is unaccounted for.

Through the initial stages of the investigation, written submissions and evidence were brought before the auditors, and the recommendation brought before the MEC of Education, Senzo Mchunu, by the auditors, was for the suspension of the two officials so the audit would continue unimpeded.

Education Department spokeswoman Mbali Thusi said last week she is not aware of any official beingsuspended as a result of the investigation, adding it was not concluded.

When asked about Maikoo, Thusi said she was on leave.

But according to Stokes, the letter of suspension does not allow for those suspended to take leave.

“The DA applauds the firm line taken by MEC Senzo Mchunu in pursuing those people responsible for the misappropriation of funds,”he said.

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