More school textbooks dumped in Limpopo

Textbooks found at a dump site in Seshego near Polokwane. (Gallo)

Textbooks found at a dump site in Seshego near Polokwane. (Gallo)

The Democratic Alliance has discovered another textbook dumping site in Limpopo, spokesperson Desiree van der Walt said on Tuesday.

She said the books were found next to a bridge in Tzaneen, last week Friday. The party has opened a case of vandalism against state property with Tzaneen police.

"These criminal acts are insensitive to the needs of the learners, who have already had to spend months without reading material. We hope that more culprits will be brought to book," said Van der Walt.

This was the third criminal charge to be opened for vandalism of state property.

The first was laid at first was laid at a Giyani police station and the second relates to the destruction of textbooks with public money in Seshego.

Lieutenant Colonel Ronel Otto confirmed that the DA had opened the case.

She said about 50 books were discovered at the latest dumpsite.

"The Limpopo education department clerk who was charged with malicious damage to property when the first dumpsite was discovered will also be held accountable for this latest incident," said Otto.

The clerk was due to appear in the Giyani Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

The Limpopo education department denied any knowledge of another dumping site.

Baseless and unfortunate
Meanwhile, the presidency on Monday said attempts to link EduSolutions to President Jacob Zuma's RDP Education Trust, were baseless and unfortunate.

"Many companies donate to charitable organisations in South Africa, including the president's education trust," spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

"Donors do not have any preferential treatment with regards to government tenders or any other state business."

Neither were they exempt from being investigated if the need arose.

"They are treated like any other company by government departments."

The contract between the Limpopo education department and EduSolutions was terminated after an investigation into the company by Treasury and other agencies started in December last year.

Hidden textbooks
After the contract was terminated, new means for textbook delivery had to be sought, Maharaj said.
He said Zuma had full confidence in the investigation.

Former Vlakplaas commander Dirk Coetzee was quoted in Sunday's City Press newspaper saying he personally introduced Zuma to EduSolutions founder Shaun Battlemann.

He said Battlemann "championed" Zuma's RDP Trust, and Battlemann visited Zuma at his estate in Nkandla.

Coetzee, who worked for the company as a security consultant, alleged textbooks were hidden in a warehouse instead of being delivered.

Battlemann also allegedly had a business relationship with a former education department director, guaranteeing him government contracts, and EduSolutions influenced education officials in various provinces.

Failure to launch
In May this year, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled the department's failure to provide textbooks to schools in Limpopo violated the Constitution. The application was brought by rights organisation Section 27.

Some pupils had been without textbooks for the past six months after the department failed to procure books on time.

The department was ordered to devise a catch-up plan to remedy the consequences of the delay and to supply the affected schools with textbooks by June 15.

The department failed to meet the court's deadline but Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said her department met with Section 27 and agreed to move the deadline to June 27.

The minister said the department had accepted an offer from a company called UTI to help them deliver the books.

Verifying claims
Former higher education director general Mary Metcalfe was appointed at the end of June to evaluate textbook deliveries to schools in Limpopo following the June 27 deadline.

Both the department and Section 27 agreed to appoint an independent person to verify claims.

Two more teams were set up on Wednesday to probe problems with textbook deliveries in the province. One was appointed by the presidency, the second by the Limpopo government.

Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education visited Limpopo on Thursday to gather information on the matter.

The national education department took over the running of Limpopo's education department in December following maladministration. – Sapa

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