Textbooks shredded, burned in KZN

2013-07-25 18:25


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Durban - Textbooks meant for schools in KwaZulu-Natal were found shredded and burnt at a warehouse in Empangeni, provincial education authorities said on Thursday.

They were to have been delivered to schools in the province by March, education MEC Senzo Mchunu said.

The books were discovered on Wednesday at a warehouse belonging to UTi Distributors, a company the basic education department had contracted to distribute textbooks in all provinces.

"We can't help but suspect that there is a case of huge corruption on the part of the company in question," Mchunu said.

UTi Distributors denied not delivering textbooks to schools in the province.

The company's Africa divisions director Greg Saffy said in a statement about 100 school workbooks from the 2012 school year were found irreparably damaged and shredded at its Empangeni warehouse. He said no schools had been adversely affected and there was no evidence of "criminality" or "corruption".

Mchunu said the department began suspecting something was amiss when, instead of distributing workbooks directly to schools, UTi decided to deliver workbooks to the offices of the Uthungulu district.

"That meant we had to incur unnecessary expenses where principals had to drive to the district offices to collect workbooks. This inefficiency happened more than once."

The department investigated and found the textbooks in Empangeni. Mchunu said he had reported the matter to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and police.

UTi said once it had identified the schools for which the damaged books were intended, the workbooks were replaced and delivered. The replacement was done within two weeks, and no schools were affected.

5 578 550 workbooks delivered

"UTi delivered 5 578 550 workbooks in KwaZulu-Natal in 2012, and have delivered 5 122 660 to the province for the 2013 school year," Saffy said.

He said the company was conducting its own investigation. Once that was complete disciplinary steps would be taken if necessary.

Saffy said UTi would provide Motshekga, Mchunu and other relevant parties with an official report as soon as possible.

"UTi was appointed as a service provider to a Joint Venture (JV) with Paarl Media and Lebone Litho for the distribution of school workbooks," he said.

Saffy said the JV agreed with UTi's statement.

The African National Congress in the province condemned the non-delivery of textbooks.

"It is absurd that books which are of great value to our children could be disposed of in this careless way," ANC spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said in a statement. He said this proved that some business people did not care about the development of the country and pupils.

"The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal therefore calls for a speedy police investigation so that the perpetrators of this unspeakable deed are prosecuted and blacklisted from doing business with any government department or public entity."

Read more on:    angie motshekga  |  durban  |  education

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