SGB OFFICIALS AND STAFF IN THE WESTERN CAPE CAUGHT DIPPING INTO SCHOOL FUNDS

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This comes after last month’s arrest by the Hawks, where seven suspects – including former SGB chairperson, a director of the security company, and the acting principal of the Western Cape Sports School – were nabbed for fraud and corruption.

Goosen said their process was that once reports have been finalised by a panel of PSC commissioners, they are submitted to the Education MEC and, if necessary, the legislature.

Therefore, they were unable to name the schools until that process has been brought to finality.

However, according to a source, among the schools investigated included Cheré Botha School, Rhodes High School, Northpine Technical High School, and Golden Grove Primary School.

Goosen said many of the complaints related to decisions and practices at the SGB. It was, accordingly, a governance issue.

He said that laying the blame at the door of the SGB masks the role of principals, who, in many instances, were in a position to “manipulate” decision-making by governing bodies.
“Serious consideration needs to be given by both the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) and national department regarding regulation of this area, to avoid ethical problems,” said Goosen.

He said, currently, it was possible for a school to appoint family members of a principal – all that was required was that the principal recuse himself from the process.

“This is not conducive to building an environment where there are appropriate control measures, especially where a great amount of power is concentrated in the hands of a principal, who ought to be playing a fiduciary role,” said Goosen.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said fraud and corruption represent significant potential risks to the department’s assets and could negatively impact on service delivery efficiency, and the department’s reputation.

Hammond said the Western Cape government adopted an anti-fraud and corruption strategy, which confirmed the province’s zero-tolerance stance towards fraud, theft and corruption.

“In line with this strategy, the department is committed to zero-tolerance with regard to corrupt, fraud, or any other criminal activities,” she said.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said the standing committee on education in the legislature will be meeting today to receive the reports officially and, hopefully, hear a presentation by the PSC on alleged fraud and corruption in schools.

Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) deputy chief executive Jaco Deacon said it was shocking that adults would steal from children – that was the effect of poor management or corruption in education.

Deacon said the SGBs must have checks and balances in place to govern properly, and even more so for financial management.
“The financial committee should play an active role in this oversight and it should never happen that the principal and chairperson is in control. Parents have a voice and they should attend the annual general meetings, and scrutinise the budget before approving it – ask the difficult questions and demand answers,” he said.

Deacon said the SGBs must submit annual audited financial statements to the department – what are the officials doing with this? Deacon said that the department should have knowledgeable people that can assess and red flag issues.

“If there is any doubt, the MEC can or South African Schools Act (Sasa) requests the Auditor-General to audit the school,” he said.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said corruption is a serious matter, that has the potential to destabilise the terrain of education.

Makaneta said, while they should all applaud the PSC for taking the time to investigate maladministration in the sector, it was necessary to caution all stakeholders to conduct themselves in a manner that is befitting, where the education of children should be a number one priority.

“Those who steal from schools are robbing the young ones of an opportunity to create a better future for themselves,” he said.

 

Article written by: Sisonke Mlamla

Photo credit: Modern Classroom

Link: https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/sgb-officials-and-staff-in-the-western-cape-caught-dipping-into-school-funds-a21d0af1-f8b0-4095-ba25-dfc2c30335a6

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