New probe into school transport

THE commission of inquiry announced by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza to look into transport irregularities has five weeks to come up with its findings.

After three years of investigations into pupil transport irregularities, Mabuza, pictured, announced last week that he had appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the transport saga.

Since its inception in 2001, the pupil transport programme has been marred by allegations ranging from overloading to unroadworthy vehicles, discrepancies on the number of pupils, route distances and late arrival of pupils at schools.

And in 2005 eyebrows were raised when expenditure relating to the provision of pupil transport in the province soared from R60million to more than R145million, leading to the suspension of four top officials, Willem Kotze, Sipho Thwala, Tom Maputle and Mandla Chauke.

But they were reinstated after the North Gauteng high court found no evidence linking them to the charges.

In 2006 the provincial education department appointed Priska Myoni and Associates to investigate the provision of scholar transport and to verify all routes on which pupils were collected and transported to schools.

Despite budgeting R2,6million, the investigation has cost R8million to date and still failed to produce any substantial evidence of wrongdoing.

Mabuza said the commission would be chaired by Happy Groenewald, a practising attorney who will be assisted by C du Toit.

The commission is due to complete its work on September 30.