An acting school principal in Limpopo was arrested yesterday for embezzling R17 000 in school fees.
Max Mohale, 51, acting principal of Boreletsane Primary School, in Bolobedu near Modjadjiskloof, was arrested in the school yard in full view of teachers and students.
His arrest came after a series of meetings between Mohale and the school's management and governing bodies failed to get Mohale to refund the money.
Superintendent Moatshe Ngoepe, a spokesman for the police in Mopani, said: "The money embezzled was payments for school fees for January to May this year.
"The school gave the principal the money to bank.
"The governing body and members of his staff became perplexed when he kept sending them from pillar to post when they asked him to show them the bank receipts for the money."
Lebepe Thomas, chairman of the school's governing body, said many meetings had been held between Mohale and the school management team in an effort to get Mohale to refund the money but he had always resisted.
Thomas said: "He later admitted to the parents of the pupils that he had stolen the money and said he would refund it within three months.
"The parents ran amok and threatened to close the school.
"We wrote to the Education Department informing them of the situation and they promised to investigate and report back to the school."
Mohale's arrest yesterday was a year and 10 months after the disappearance of the money was reported to the police.
Ndo Managala, a spokesman for the Limpopo department of education, said: "The department is aware of the matter. This is a serious matter.
"These are monies from poor parents who want to secure a better future for their children.
"If the police can find substance in the matter, Mr Mohale could be charged with misconduct by the department of education."
Mohale will appear tomorrow in the Bolobedu magistrates' court on charges of theft.
l Two months ago, two teachers from Phalaborwa schools were arrested for stealing perfumes and body lotions.
They paid admission-of-guilt fines and were released.