Education department officials suspended in multimillion-rand KZN sanitary pad scandal

Four officials were suspended
Four officials were suspended
Image: 123RF/pixelbliss

KwaZulu-Natal education officials implicated in the surplus supply of sanitary pads at schools have been suspended.

This is after the department discovered that over two million sanitary pads were not needed and 64,269 pads were not delivered at schools, something that cost the department more than R4m. The four suspended managers employed at the KwaZulu-Natal education head office are the deputy director-general: Institution development support, chief director: social enrichment programmes, director: employee relations, and director of special needs education.

This was announced by KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu when he released the forensic report of the procurement and supply of sanitary towels to the province’s schools on Thursday. The forensic investigation was conducted after allegations surfaced that there was an oversupply of sanitary towels and there were irregularities in the tender to supply them. Mshengu said the department of education in the province in 2016 launched a pilot project to provide sanitary towels to indigent girl pupils in order to reduce the dropout rate and improve the academic performance of girl pupils.

“An amount of R20m was set aside for this pilot programme for selected schools in quintile 1-4 schools specifically targeting grade 4 to 12 girl learners. Around April 2017, the department approved the purchase of sanitary pads for 953,122 girl learners at the cost of R54 899 827.20. In August 2017, the department approved and issued a second order for the same number of learners and at the same cost. In total the department between 2016 and 2017 spent R129 799 654 to procure sanitary towels,” Mshengu said.

He said during the implementation of this programme, there were allegations of oversupply, supply to non-deserving schools and possible flouting of the process and procedures which were raised by education unions and other organs of society.

“These allegations led to the commissioning of a forensic investigation conducted by Phumlani Mkhize & Associates. In a survey conducted by the investigators, it was revealed that an excess of 2 702 065 packs of sanitary pads were not needed. In quantifying a loss in relation to sanitary pads distributed, it was established that 388,680 packs were not delivered to the district offices and the head office. A further 64,269 packs were not delivered to schools. These packs were valued at the cost of R4,310.40,” Mshengu said.

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