South Africa News

Eastern Cape education dept officials’ fraud trial postponed

The trial date in the multimillion-rand fraud and corruption case against former Eastern Cape education department superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo is expected to be confirmed on 1 September.

Ngonzo – along with incumbent deputy director-general of the education department Ray Tywakadi, deputy director of IT support services Tryronne Fourie, former chief education specialist in the Learner Teacher Support Material Unit (LTSM) Noxolo Valencia Gwarube, and Siegesmund Trust representative Johannes Hermanus Bouwer Smith – are all implicated in alleged corruption involving R59 million.

The accused appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where the case was postponed to 1 September to arrange the trial date.

The five have been charged with corruption, fraud, attempted fraud, theft, and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

They were released on R5 000 bail each in May.

The accused allegedly unlawfully used 80% of the department’s textbook budget to acquire supplementary resource material (SRM), without prior approval from National Treasury.

The NPA said Gwarube, Ngonzo and Fourie had decided to centralise the supply of the material, mainly IT equipment and photocopiers, which meant that schools no longer procured SRM themselves but through the department.

The State charges that Gwarube, who oversaw the Learner Teacher Support Material Unit, never applied for the budget to be shifted.

Ngonzo, the SG at the time, was said to be aware of the budget split but failed to ratify the intended budget split, which was not reported to Treasury.

Siegesmund supplied R59-million worth of IT equipment and Fourie signed off the request as if it was for books in order to access the books budget.

During the commission of the alleged crimes, during the 2014 financial year, Tywakadi was the acting SG and head of the Eastern Cape education department, the NPA said in a statement.

-The Citizen

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