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Massive travel fraud uncovered

By unknown | May 04, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Mpumalanga's department of education has found out why the cost of transport for pupils has been so high.

The progress report of the forensic investigation into transport costs has identified serious fraudulent activities by some officials in the department .

The investigation spans the years from 2001 to 2006 and was commissioned by the provincial executive council last year following the skyrocketing costs of scholar transport charges between 2002 and 2005.

"Several officials in the department of education have been collaborating with transport service providers and service level agreements were not complied with," Mpumalanga education MEC Siphosezwe Masango, told journalists yesterday.

The investigation's preliminary findings indicate that all the service providers have been using unauthorised letters extending their contracts or that no authority had been given for them to continue with their contracts.

"Our initial verification of the routes indicates that the kilometres and pupils on all the extension letters and contracts are incorrect," said Masango.

He said all claims submitted and payments made to the service providers under investigation had been exaggerated.

Masango promised the department would review all extension letters and contracts.

This could lead to the department terminating their contracts as soon as possible.

The progress report has recommended that, among other things, the department must consider disciplinary action against staff members who have contravened the department's rules and regulations.

Masango said the audit recommended that criminal action be taken against the culprits and that the department do all in its power to recover the money, which is believed to run into millions of rands.


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