A preliminary report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into more than R400 million that was spent to sanitise schools in Gauteng has recommended that a disciplinary process be taken against officials in the department.
On Tuesday, Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi made a presentation to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s education portfolio committee, in which he revealed that he had received the preliminary report. He told the committee that the report had made recommendations that the head of department (HOD), Edward Mosuwe, had to implement.
“This report has been provided to the HOD for his consideration and action. The recommendations include the institution of disciplinary processes against officials in the department, in line with the Public Service Act and Public Service Regulations,” reads the presentation, which City Press has seen.
The department came under fire when it emerged early this year that it had spent R431 million on the decontamination of schools between June and August 2020. Part of the outcry was that it was not necessary to have spent money on schools that had remained closed, with no learners and teachers, for months.
In March last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa closed schools to curb the spread of Covid-19. Schools only opened in June for grade 7 and 12 pupils, while other grades gradually went back to class, with the last of the pupils going back in August.
The matter was referred to the SIU. In May the SIU announced that it had been granted an order to freeze 14 bank accounts and assets to the value of R40.7 million, belonging to 14 companies that had been irregularly appointed to do work in schools.
In June, the SIU again said it had been granted permission to freeze bank accounts – this time seven, worth R22.4 million, of companies that had been irregularly appointed by the department.
“The companies began dissipating the funds received from the Gauteng department of education, upon receipt. Traces of the funds show that the companies made large payments to unidentified recipients who have, in turn, disposed of them,” read an SIU statement at the time.
The SIU said 200 companies were appointed for the tender in a haphazard and unfair manner.
In the presentation the department made to the committee, it said that it was required to appoint an external legal practitioner or firm to review the report, formulate the charges and initiate them on behalf of the department.
“The department is also required to appoint an independent legal practitioner as the presiding officer of the disciplinary hearing. The HOD has considered the recommendations and has appointed an external legal team to evaluate the findings and its supporting evidence and to formulate charges against the identified officials,” reads the presentation, adding that Mosuwe was awaiting the legal advice on the recommendations.
On Wednesday, in a statement, DA spokesperson on education in Gauteng, Khume Ramulifho, said Lesufi needed to make the report public.
“We demand that MEC Lesufi make this report public for transparency and accountability to the people of Gauteng who want to know what happened, and the role played by the implicated officials during this process. This will ensure that those implicated are dealt with accordingly and that absolutely nothing is swept under the carpet, with the monies recovered…
“The DA will continue to put pressure on MEC Lesufi to make this report public and to monitor the progress of implementation of the SIU preliminary report recommendations to ensure that those who are implicated are brought to book and they pay back every cent owed to the education of our children,” reads the statement.
Lesufi has maintained his innocence over the tender and said he was not aware of it, and was shocked when he saw the contents of the report that contained information about it.