KZN education officials suspended for mismanagement of sanitary-pads project

The KwaZulu-Natal department of education has suspended three senior officials who were flagged by a forensic investigation as having been responsible for mismanagement of the sanitary-towel programme. 

This was announced by MEC of education Kwazi Mshengu at a media briefing on Thursday. The forensic investigation found there was an oversupply of more than two million sanitary pads; 388 650 packs of sanitary pads were not delivered to the district offices and head office; another 64 269 packs were not delivered to schools; and that these packs cost more than R4-million.

The department launched a pilot project in 2016 and R20-million was set aside for selected schools in quintiles one to four. The intention was to supply learners in grades four to 12.

Mshengu said that in April 2017 the department approved the purchase of 953 122 packs of pads at a cost of more than R54-million; in August 2017, a second order for the same number of learners at the same cost was approved. Between 2016 and 2017, the department spent R129 799 654 on sanitary towels.

However, Mshengu said teacher unions and other civil society organisations raised an issue with the over-supply of the pads and that said they were being delivered to schools that were not deserving. He said allegations of flouting processes and procedures led to the commission of a forensic investigation. 


In 2018, the Mail & Guardian reported that at least two teachers unions had warned that the project of distributing sanitary towels to learners smacked of corruption. 

The National Teachers Union (Natu) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in the province called for the department of basic education to conduct a forensic investigation into the programme. 

At the time, the unions said sanitary towels were piling up in staff rooms and principals’ offices because of oversupply. Natu president Allan Thompson said because of the oversupply teachers were giving the sanitary pads to all learners, even those in grade R.

Mshengu said the forensic investigation recommended that disciplinary action be taken against the deputy director general for institutional development (support branch), the chief director for social enrichment programmes and the director for special needs education. “These officials were identified as responsible for the mismanagement of the project, resulting in oversupply and financial loss to the department.” 

In a statement on Thursday, Natu’s Thompson said the union will take the matter to the office of the public protector because it felt the investigation by the department was a “cosmetic exercise exercise designed to cover the misdemeanours conducted by the officials and politicians in KwaZulu-Natal”.

Secretary of Sadtu in the province, Nomarashiya Caluza, told the M&G that the union welcomed the report but felt that the investigation left certain things “hanging”. She, however, said the union hopes  the suspended officials will be subjected to a fair process.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

The promised land? Lack of access to finance hinders farmers

The agricultural sector has grown this year, but an absence of collateral is preventing black farmers from making a go of their business

ANC’s North West troika clean-up flops

ANC regions in the province have ordered their mayors, chief whips and speakers to stay in office

Extract: Mandy Wiener’s ‘The Whistleblowers’ shows the cost of speaking out

In this extract from journalist Mandy Wiener’s latest book she examines the death of ANC Youth League member Sindiso Magaqa in KwaZulu-Natal

Health workers fight without fuel

Community health workers are at the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 in Gauteng, but many have not been paid for months. Sarah Smit and Paul Botes talked to workers who spoke of their love for the job – and how that love has been trifled with

More North West mayors face recall

The ANC is wielding its axe to clear out ineffective councillors and those facing criminal charges

Unethical businesses will face people’s protest

Companies must behave like model democratic citizens if they are to earn and retain society’s social licence to operate
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Finance probe into the Ingonyama Trust Board goes ahead

The threat of legal action from ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya fails to halt forensic audit ordered by the land reform minister

Ailing Far East Rand hospital purchases ‘vanity’ furniture

Dr Zacharia Mathaba, who purchased the furniture, is a suspected overtime fraudster and was appointed as Gauteng hospital chief executive despite facing serious disciplinary charges

Eusebius McKaiser: Reject the dichotomy of political horrors

Senekal shows us that we must make a stand against the loud voice of the populist EFF and racist rightwingers

Seals abort pups in mass die-off

There are a number of factors — a pollutant, virus or bacteria or malnutrition — may have caused the 12 000 deaths on Namibia’s coast
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday