- KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu says personal protective equipment has gone missing in three districts.
- It is not yet clear if they were stolen, but early indications show they disappeared en route to schools.
- An investigation has been launched.
Large quantities of personal protective equipment (PPE) have "disappeared" in Umlazi, Pinetown and Zululand, according to the KwaZulu-Natal education department.
Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said in a statement on Tuesday that he was "shocked" at the reports.
The statement did not say whether the undisclosed amount of PPE had been stolen, but said it disappeared "en route" to circuit offices and schools.
"It is said that these PPEs have disappeared en route to circuit offices and schools. The disappearance of these PPEs makes the preparations for the reopening of schools an elusive goal.
"The replacement of these PPEs will cost the department millions of rand... money which the department does not have."
Mshengu has directed the provincial head of department to urgently institute an investigation into the disappearance.
News24 has asked the department to clarify the details of the disappearance and indicate whether a police case has been laid.
Department spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa further told News24 that because the equipment disappeared within those specific districts, an investigation was needed to ascertain those details, and advise on the next course of action.
KwaZulu-Natal schools have been the hardest hit by vandalism during the lockdown period, News24 previously reported.
Mshengu last month said more than 400 schools have been vandalised in KZN during the national lockdown. This, he said, put further strain on the already tightened education budget.
Schools with minor damage, such as broken windows, had to use their norms and standards budget for repairs.
He called on parents to ensure their children went straight home after school.
Schools in the province are due to formally reopen for Grades 7 and 12 from June 8.
- Compiled by Paul Herman