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Service provider denies dumping workbooks

Bongani Nkosi

The culprits who dumped Limpopo school workbooks near a Limpopo dam were still unknown by the end of the week and the saga had only deepened.

The department this week blamed “some service providers” for dumping the workbooks. (Luke Boelitz, M&G)

Principals reported that their schools had not received all their books.

Attention was still on Limpopo’s textbook debacle when the basic education department announced on Monday that workbooks had been found dumped among bushes near Nsami Dam in Giyani.

Ronel Otto, a spokesperson for the Limpopo police, told the Mail & Guardian that about 700 books had been found.

The department this week blamed “some service providers” for dumping the workbooks they had been “assigned to deliver to grades eight and nine pupils”.

Keith Michael, chief executive of Lebone Litho, “categorically” denied any involvement and distanced himself from the dumping of the books.

Marred by problems
With Paarl Media, Lebone is responsible for printing and distributing workbooks to schools in all nine provinces. The companies formed a joint venture for the multimillion-rand contract awarded by the department in October 2011.

Moloko Rakgole of the South African Principals’ Association in Limpopo said workbook delivery was marred by problems. “Some schools have not yet received workbooks [for the next term].”

Another principal said his school had not received all its workbooks and he knew of other schools in the same boat. “They are being delivered in dribs and drabs,” he said.

Michael claimed it was “suspicious” that the workbooks were found in “this polluted environment” in which the focus was on textbooks. “There’s an agenda to discredit the department and our joint venture.”

Lebone completed its workbook deliveries at the end of March, he said.

Dumped
The department and the Democratic Alliance have separately laid charges of malicious damage to property. Otto said no suspects had been identified.

On Thursday, department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi echoed Michael, saying workbook deliveries had been concluded in March.

He would not be drawn on how “service providers” featured in the dumping. “Police are investigating,” he said.

A principal of a Giyani primary school, who asked not to be named, expressed shock that workbooks had been dumped because her school still did not have enough of them.

“I’ve been a teacher for many, many years and a principal for 10 years, but it’s the first time I’ve experienced something like this,” she said, speaking to the M&G from the Giyani police station where the books were being kept.

Patchy delivery
Her school had received most of its workbooks by May, but it still had none for grade R and for the new curriculum, she said.

In February the M&G reported that the delivery of workbooks was patchy across South Africa. The department claimed in response that only 30% were still to be delivered.

But “proof of delivery is available for each school”, Lesufi said.

Pat Kgomo, the Limpopo education spokesperson, could not be reached for comment.


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