R1 m debt zaps blind school

FURIOUS: Students of Khanyisa, a school for the visually impaired, protest against a teacher who embezzled funds amounting to R60000. Pic. Sandile Witbooi.
FURIOUS: Students of Khanyisa, a school for the visually impaired, protest against a teacher who embezzled funds amounting to R60000. Pic. Sandile Witbooi.

Gross mismanagement of funds and a whopping R1,2million owed to the municipality in electricity arrears has left Eastern Cape's only school for the visually impaired in Port Elizabeth on the verge of collapse.

Gross mismanagement of funds and a whopping R1,2million owed to the municipality in electricity arrears has left Eastern Cape's only school for the visually impaired in Port Elizabeth on the verge of collapse.

Since last Monday there has been no schooling after about 150 pupils at Khanyisa held a protest, calling on the education department to fire a teacher who admitted to having embezzled school funds.

Minutes of the Khanyisa school governing body meeting held in August last year reveal that the institution was heading for trouble. It also reveals that one of the teaching staff admitted to having embezzled close to R60000 by buying cutlery, food and mattresses.

The minutes show that the teacher made a startling confession that the items never reached the school but were instead used in her home.

The teacher and her husband also allegedly undertook a trip from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg in one of the school's vehicles.

Other school funds raised by hiring out the school hall were also misused by the same teacher, who subsequently undertook to repay all the money.

Newly appointed Khanyisa school principal, Sibongile Mayana, states in the minutes that all the allegations against the teacher were referred to the education department.

The governing body asked the department to charge the teacher.

A students representative council chairman and member of the governing body, Lubabalo Sitoyile, said pupils and parents feared the institution's financial woes might lead to its closure. Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said the department was still subsidising the school and was aware of the situation.

"There have been representations to the head office to deal with the institution's finances," Pulumani said.

Municipal spokesman Lourens Schoeman said: "They are free to approach us to make an arrangement to pay or instal a pre-paid metre instead," he said. - Herald

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