/ 9 March 2016

SA schools ‘hotspots’ for corruption – report

One struggle: Education and social transformation are inextricably linked.
One struggle: Education and social transformation are inextricably linked.

Corruption in schools topped the graft incidents reported to watchdog Corruption Watch, according to the organisation’s annual report released on Wednesday.

“The corruption hotspots in 2015 are schools, which make up 16 percent of overall reports during the year, followed by traffic and licensing at 12 percent, immigration at six percent and housing and healthcare at five and three percent respectively,” said Corruption Watch.

The organisation said as of July 2015, it had received at least 1 000 reports of corruption at schools across the country. At least 22 percent of the reports came from Gauteng, 18 percent from the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal had 17 percent while 16 percent emanated from the Eastern Cape. The Northern Cape reported one percent of graft incidents.

School principals
“The bulk of these reports finger principals as the main culprits involved in corruption activities. This is a consistent trend across all schools, including Section 20 and private schools, with the majority of reports emanating from Section 21 schools.”

At least 259 of the cases implicated principals in financial mismanagement, 152 in theft of school funds, 78 in tender corruption, 36 in employment corruption and 19 cases for theft of goods, including theft of food provided as part of the government feeding schemes.

The cases also indicated that principals were also aided by others in commitment of the offences.

Through an investigation of ten schools in two provinces, seven in Gauteng and three in KwaZulu-Natal, Corruption Watch found that there were no consequences against principals found guilty of corruption.The organisation noted that even though some principals were found guilty of corruption, they continued to have access to school funds.

“In a number of cases, principals implicated in corruption and maladministration have merely been moved to other schools where they continue their corrupt practices. In some cases, the outcomes of disciplinary hearings do not always result in dismissals, the principals receive lighter sentences.”

School governing bodies, elected to govern schools along with principals, were found to lack capacity and sometimes not understand their roles and responsibilities, the report noted. – African News Agency (ANA)