KZN education officials to face the music for overcrowded matric 'boot camp'
Harry Gwala district education officials face disciplinary processes for flouting a procurement process which resulted in dozens of grade 12 pupils being crammed into a tent at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu told media on Tuesday that the findings of an investigation into allegations showed proper protocol had not been followed during a matric boot camp on the south coast in October.
The findings recommended that the district director, the acting chief education specialist in question and an assistant director should undergo disciplinary action.
“I am satisfied the report presents a case to be answered by the implicated officials and have referred the report to the head of department for immediate implementation,” said Mshengu.
He said the matter was investigated after disturbing photos about pupils seated in a tent at the Harry Gwala district boot camp with no Covid-19 regulations observed. The pictures also showed toilet facilities overflowing with human waste.
He confirmed the facility was immediately ordered to shut down following the release of the images last year, and pupils were moved into another suitable venue.
Mshengu then directed the head of department to investigate the internal processes that led to the use of an unsuitable venue for pupils.
In the report, the findings reveal the procurement processes were flouted in securing the use of the Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre to host the camp and two private companies to transport pupils.
There was evidence the matric intervention programme team conducted the assessment and found the facility was not suitable to host the spring camp.
The report found that contrary to service providers being ordered to keep the costs below R500,000 to avoid going to tender, the centre quoted almost triple the amount.
Mshengu said: “Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre quoted a total of R1.26m and the district director acted beyond her delegated authority to approve Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre and therefore the splitting of the quotation was done intentionally.”
He said the centre was appointed as a service provider before the quotes were submitted.
“It is evident Ixopo High School facility was available but the district had no intentions to use it, which was in conflict with the position of the department to use available schools as part of curbing costs,” read the report.
Mshengu urged education officials to work with rules and not misuse public funds.
“To those who participate in transgressions, we will treat you as enemies of the people and we will not hesitate to act decisively against wrongdoings.”