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KZN education department cleared of wrongdoing in school water tank procurement

10 February 2021 - 14:53 By nivashni nair
The Special Investigative Unit eventually found that, in essence, the KZN department of education did not procure the water tanks as alleged and the matter is now closed, said the department.
The Special Investigative Unit eventually found that, in essence, the KZN department of education did not procure the water tanks as alleged and the matter is now closed, said the department.
Image: Nivashni Nair

A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into the procurement of water tanks for schools has found no wrongdoing on the part of the KwaZulu-Natal education department.

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu on Wednesday welcomed the findings in the interim report.

The investigation resulted from social media posts alleging that the department of education procured water tanks at unreasonable, exorbitant and inflated prices.

The 5,000l tanks, which cost as little as R3,900 direct from the manufacturer, were rolled out to schools with no running water so children could wash their hands when they returned to class last year.

In June the provincial education department confirmed it was paying R28,000 for the purchase, delivery and installation, with a stand, of the tanks - earning derision on social media among commentators who pointed out that the same item cost as little as R4,899 from a wholesaler.

Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi on Wednesday said the department had fully co-operated with the SIU and provided all necessary documents.

“The SIU eventually found that in essence, the KZN department of education did not procure the water tanks as alleged and the matter is now closed.”

The SIU report further acknowledged that the department was at various stages of implementing recommendations of matters of transgression as found by the auditor-general.

“To this end, two senior managers from supply chain management are on suspension and undergoing disciplinary hearings relating to allegations of facilitating cover-quoting, awarding service providers that were not tax-compliant and related matters,” he said.

Mshengu committed to act decisively against any form of corruption and warned officials never to fall into the temptation to act outside the ambit of the law.

“As I said from the first day I assumed the responsibility of being MEC, I will not coexist with any form of corruption,” he said.

“I also undertook never to issue any unlawful instruction that is not consistent with the duties of the MEC. Anyone who seeks to issue any unlawful instruction under my name or that of the ANC must be reported immediately.”

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