The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has welcomed the prosecution of four senior Eastern Cape Education Department officials and a businessman on charges of fraud and corruption.
The five are linked to the 2014 procurement of learner/ teacher supplementary resource material worth R59 million from Siegesmund Trust.
They businessman Johannes Smith, former Department head Mthunywa Ngonzo, former Chief Education Specialist Noxolo Gwarube, together with current department officials appeared before the East London Magistrates Court on Monday on charges of corruption, fraud, attempted fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
The current Department officials and suspects in the matter are Deputy Director General Raymond Tywakadi (Acting Superintendent-General/head of Department at the time), and IT services Deputy Director Tyronne Fourie also appeared in court.
They were released on R5000 bail each and the matter was postponed to 8 July 2021 for copies of the docket and to allow for Tywakadi’s legal representative to be confirmed.
“The prosecution by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) follows an intensive investigation conducted by the SIU in the Eastern Cape Education Department which uncovered evidence pointing to criminal action and in particular corruption against the five accused,” said the SIU in a statement.
The evidence, as required by the SIU Act, was referred to the NPA and also to the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) for further attention.
“The SIU is working closely with the NPA and Hawks in this regard and we will continue to work together to ensure that all role players identified through our investigations in the alleged crimes are held accountable.
“The SIU also made six disciplinary referrals against education department officials, including the Acting Head of Department at the time. The Department confirmed to the SIU that disciplinary action against four officials has commenced,” the Unit said.
In 2015, the SIU was directed in terms of Proclamation R598 of 2015, to investigate the procurement of or contracting for services by the education department and payments that were made in respect thereof.
The SIU investigation uncovered that the goods were procured unlawfully and/or irregularly, in contravention of the provisions of the SCM policy, Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act No.5 of 2000, and section 217(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
The SIU investigation further revealed that the Siegesmund Trust had delivered the resource material as per the terms of the irregular contract which has since been reviewed and set aside.
As result, the SIU calculated the profit earned from the procurement contract and demanded it be paid back. Civil litigation was instituted by the SIU in the Grahamstown High Court to recover the monies.
The trustees of Siegesmund Trust agreed to pay back R3 million in three instalments plus interest and the agreement was made an order of the Grahamstown High Court in March this year.