Limpopo DA MPL held for trespassing at textbook warehouse
A DA Limpopo provincial legislature member was detained on Friday for allegedly trespassing at a textbook warehouse, the party said.
Police refused to release Democratic Alliance MPL Meisie Kennedy until she had deleted photos from her phone, DA Limpopo leader Jacques Smalle said in a statement.
"Ms Kennedy is a member of the legislature and entitled to inspect these public resources that should be in schools.
"The DA made a surprise visit to the warehouse this morning after pursuing the reasons for book shortages in schools this week," Smalle said.
Limpopo police could not comment on the incident because no charges were laid.
Kennedy said the books were stacked from the ground to the ceiling in the warehouse.
"I introduced myself [and said] I wanted to conduct an oversight at the warehouse," she said.
"I was allowed in, but while taking pictures I was manhandled. I screamed, I wanted to get help. They grabbed me. I'm still in shock."
Kennedy said she would not lay a charge with the police because she was not injured. Her driver's licence, identity document, and camera were confiscated, but were returned after the photos had been deleted.
The department of education said it did not own the property in the warehouse.
"The DA impersonated a government official and that property does not belong to the department, it belongs to a private company," spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said.
"They must sort [these issues] out with the private company."
He said the warehouse belonged to distribution company UTI.
The DA said it had heard from schools with textbook shortages that the education department had failed to deliver because of problems with a tender.
Smalle said the department had attempted to move the textbooks to another location on Friday morning after hearing of the DA's visit.
"A delegation including Mmusi Maimane, Desiree van der Walt, and myself arrived in time to witness this," said Smalle.
"The warehouse was immediately put into lockdown and thousands of books are still inside."
The DA wanted answers from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga about why thousands of books had not been delivered.
Denying the DA's claim, Lesufi said the department had overstocked on textbooks so they could deliver within 24-hours if there were any delays.
He said the department's database had not been updated since 2011 and that there had been a change in telephone numbers. Some schools had gone from being just Afrikaans to Afrikaans and English medium schools.
"That is why we have overstocked the books, so if there is a delay we can deliver. We can also use those books next year.
"We have delivered books in Limpopo. Yes, there might be shortages, but it's because of our database."
Lesufi said if schools reported any shortages to the department, books would be delivered within 24-hours.