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The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks) in the Eastern Cape has pounced on four senior officials in the province’s Education Department and a businessperson on fraud, corruption and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) charges.

The five – former chief education specialist Noxolo Valencia Gwarube (50), former education superintendent general Mthunywa Lawrence Ngonzo (58), education deputy director general Monwabisi Raymond Tywakadi (60), education deputy director in information technology (IT) Tyrone Graig Fourie (48) and Hermanus Bouwer Smith (47), director of Siegesmund Trust – were on Monday arrested by the Hawks’ East London Serious Corruption Investigation.

“It is alleged that in 2014, 33 publishers were invited by the Learner Teacher Support Material unit (LTSM) of the Department of Education to showcase their products. It is said that the participants paid exhibition fee to the Border Christian Centre where the exhibition was going to be held,” Hawks spokesperson Captain Yolisa Mgolodela said in a statement.

She said it was further reported that the Department of Education had intentions of assisting schools by procuring Supplementary Resource Material (SRM) which included IT material like photo copiers and other technology material but not in that financial year.

“The LTSM unit under the control of the Accounting Officer had budgeted only for the procurement of text books. The LTSM unit never applied for virement of funds therefore their action was not known by Eastern Cape Department of Education and Provincial Treasury,” said the Hawks.

The Hawks alleged that the former manager of the Eastern Cape Department of Education at the LTSM unit, Gwarube misrepresented facts to the department that only textbooks would be procured by submitting expenditure approval requests to the acting deputy director for Institutional Operations Management.

“It is further reported that a sum of more than R204 million was approved for the procurement of textbooks. The SRM in the application was misrepresented as textbooks.

“Gwarube is said to have submitted misleading documents to the Internal Control Unit and Supply Chain Management section that the textbooks were to be procured knowing well that she had included SRM to the value of more than R59 million thus reducing the money that was meant for textbooks,” she said.

“It is further alleged that the exhibition fee paid by publishers to the Border Christian Centre was in excess with R120 468-00 and the Centre sought direction from the department as to what to do with the money and Gwarube instructed the Centre to deposit the money into her husband’s account. The centre requested a letter from the department authorising the transaction. The former Superintendent General Ngozo wrote the letter whereas he was already on suspension at the time.”

It is alleged that Gwarube received gratification from Siegesmund Trust, in the form of two laptops and a cell phone to ensure that the R59 million for SRM was paid promptly into the business account of Smith.

During this orchestration by Gwarube, Tywakadi was the acting Superintendent General as Ngonzo was on suspension. Fourie as the IT Deputy Director was also in office.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education was defrauded cash to the value of R59 million.

All the five accused were on Monday released on R5000 bail each. The case is remanded for the 8 July 2021 for the handing over of copies of the dockets to the defence.

Provincial Hawks head, Major General Mboiki Obed Ngwenya, lauded the Serious Corruption Investigation team for a breakthrough in a case that appears to have disadvantaged children of the Eastern Cape, and denied them an opportunity to own a textbook “which is a gateway to a better future due to selfish greed”.

SAnews.gov.za

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