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Thabiso Goba
2 minute read
14 Apr 2021

‘Harry Gwala matric boot camp’ a plot to loot the state — report

Thabiso Goba

A matric intervention camp was used as a front to potentially loot the Kwa­Zulu-Natal provincial government of R1,2 million in October.

A matric intervention camp was used as a front to potentially loot the Kwa­Zulu-Natal provincial government of R1,2 million in October.

This was revealed by Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu on Wednesday when he presented the summarised notes of the report looking into the Harry Gwala matric boot camp matter. Last October, images of matric pupils cramped in a tent without wearing masks caused an outrage on social media.

The pupils were supposedly attending a matric boot camp at the Boniwe Rehabilitation Centre, near Ixopo, in preparation of their final examinations.

Mshengu responded by shutting down the boot camp and announced that a proper investigation would be conducted into its origins.

On Wednesday he told the media that the report on the investigation detailed how managers in the Harry Gwala District colluded to loot the state when they organised this irregular camp.

Mshengu said this was done through “splitting bids” with service providers that were contracted for the camp.

READ | ‘Appalling’ matric camp in KZN South Coast closed

“The service providers in question were issued with multiple orders for the same service within the same period in order to keep the amount below the threshold of R500 000 and therefore avoiding going to tender as required,” he said.

Mshengu explained that contracts that cost below R500 000 are in the purview of the district manager while those above R500 000 need to be approved by the head of department.

Even though the total expenditure was R1,5 million, Mshengu said, the district officials divided the contract into smaller bids to avoid going to the head of department. He said the report also found that the Boniwe centre was not tax compliant and did not have a tax clearance certificate at the time.

Mshengu said there was no verifiable need for the boot camp to be hosted at the Boniwe centre, a private entity, instead of a public boarding school like the nearby Ixopo High School.

The Harry Gwala matric boot camp where pupils were crammed into tents without masks.

He said the district director, as the chairperson of the adjudication committee, flouted the procurement processes in the appointment of Boniwe to host the boot camp as well as the companies Li Africa and Zinolwazi to transport pupils. Mshengu confirmed that disciplinary processes have been initiated against the Harry Gwala District director, the acting chief education specialist and one assistant director supply chain management.

DA MPL Imran Keeka said the KZN Education department has become “a cauldron of corruption”.

“We expect that he will summarily suspend the district manager, pending a comprehensive disciplinary process. It cannot be that she is simply given a slap on the wrist. The book must be thrown at her while charges of corruption must also be proffered in line with due process,” he said.  

Mshengu said the department is looking at ways to recoup the money.