School suppliers accuse official
ALLEGATIONS of fraud and corruption in the national school nutrition programme have resurfaced in Zululand district education.
Senior official Thandi Sibiya, who monitors the running of the feeding scheme in schools, has been accused of fraud by several suppliers.
Allegations of fraud against Sibiya date back to 2006.
Suppliers who had been awarded tenders to feed school pupils claimed that Sibiya was sidelining them in favour of her own suppliers.
However, Sibiya yesterday denied the allegations. She said there were people who wanted to tarnish her image.
"I have never demanded money or taken any job from any supplier," Sibiya said.
"All I do is write a report according to the status of the feeding scheme."
Suppliers said they had reported the matter to the district office several times, but no action was taken.
During his State of the Nation Address recently, President Jacob Zuma said that more than eight million pupils in the country were benefiting from the school feeding scheme.
The school feeding scheme was introduced in 1994 and was previously known as the primary school nutrition programme. In 2009, the programme was extended to secondary schools.
At least 5203 schools in KwaZulu-Natal benefit from the scheme and in the 2011/2012 financial year over two million pupils have received meals at school on a weekly basis.
In Zululand district, the feeding scheme has a budget of R142-million with about 170772 pupils benefiting.
Various corruption allegations have been levelled against Sibiya, with some accusing her of demanding R5000 from suppliers so she could give them tenders.
Sibiya said: "I'm aware that there are people who hate me and are planning to destroy my name."
One supplier, who lost a tender in 2006, said Sibiya told him that his companies were no longer needed to supply food to the schools.
"We had a confrontation when I arrived at Ubumbano Primary and Kwanogcoyi in Nongoma. I was not even paid for the job I did. I wrote to the MEC [for education Senzo Mchunu] to expose the corruption in the district."
Provincial education spokesman Mbali Thusi said the allegations had been reported to Treasury and are the subject of investigation.
"The information received will be relayed to the relevant authorities for investigation. The matter would be investigated and go to the Treasury for audit," she said.
So far, a total of 11961 people, the majority being women, are benefiting through jobs with the programme.