Feeding scam leaves children starving

Unscrupulous food suppliers are systematically stealing from starving children by plundering Mpumalanga’s R34 -million school feeding scheme. A forensic audit completed in January indicates widespread corruption by suppliers, teachers and, in some cases, even parents.

Just one company supplying 80 schools in the Kabokweni district near White River, for example, stands accused of charging for massive amounts for food it simply never delivered.

Principals at four primary schools at Malekutu, Gutshwa, Cophetsheni and Ntokozweni have already admitted to investigators that they signed for the bogus deliveries. The food suppliers allegedly pocketed R101 853 from their scam. The real losers were the 18 000 pupils who went hungry, living in an area already hard hit by HIV/Aids, unemployment and malnutrition.

‘I personally saw some of these kids crying their hearts out for food. Such misery should never be inflicted on children. It scars them for life,” said one of the auditors.

The abuses aren’t, however, confined to Kabokweni. Representative for the Mpumalanga Department of Health, Dumisani Mlangeni, confirms that crooked suppliers and school officials may be operating with impunity because there are too few monitors or inspectors in key areas such as the Eastvaal region in the Highveld and the densely populated Ehlanzeni district.

The province currently only has full-time monitors in the Witbank, KwaMhlanga and Siyabuswa areas. Mlangeni stresses, though, that the province is urgently plugging the loophole and will soon have monitors for all 1 334 schools and 444 000 pupils who get food aid. – African Eye News Service

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Sizwe Samayende
Guest Author
Justin Arenstein
Justin Arenstein works from Africa. Investigative journalist & #CivicTech strategist. Manages innovation fund tech labs across Africa. Founder @afriLEAKS @Code4Africa @AfricanCIR @HHAfrica Justin Arenstein has over 7519 followers on Twitter.

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