Tue, 15 Jun 2021

  • Former Eastern Cape head of education, Mthunywa Ngonzo along with the department's incumbent deputy Director-General, Ray Tywakadi, and three others appeared in court in connection with IT fraud amounting to R59m.
  • The suspects are facing charges of corruption, fraud, attempted fraud, theft and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
  • They are accused of the unlawful diversion of 80% of a textbook budget for acquisition of supplementary resource material without approval from National Treasury.

Former Eastern Cape education department head, Mthunywa Ngonzo and the department's incumbent deputy Director-General, Ray Tywakadi, briefly appeared in the East London Magistrate's Court on Monday along with three others in connection with a case of R59 million IT fraud.

Ngonzo, Tywakadi and former chief education specialist, Noxolo Valencia Gwarube, current deputy director of IT support services, Tyronne Fourie, trustee and representative of the Siegesmund Trust, Johannes Hermanus Bouwer Smith made their first appearance today and were released on bail.

They are charged with corruption, fraud, attempted fraud, theft, and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, along with an IT equipment supplier of the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE).

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They accused are charged with unlawfully using 80% of the department's textbook budget to acquire supplementary resource material without prior approval from National Treasury.

"Generally, any shift of funds within the budget of the ECDoE would have required a report to seek approval from National Treasury for the shifting of funds to be utilised.

"Even in this specific instance for the procurement of supplementary resource material [SRM], this process has to be followed. The accused, in truth and in fact, never intended to formalise the shift of funds in terms of the National Treasury process," said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema.

The NPA said Gwarube, Ngonzo, and Fourie allegedly decided to centralise the supply of SRM, mainly IT equipment and photocopiers, which meant that schools no longer procured SRM themselves but through the department.

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The state charges that Gwarube, who oversaw the Learner Teacher Support Material unit, never applied for the budget to be shifted.

Ngonzo, the SG at the time, was aware of the budget split but failed to ratify the intended budget split and nothing was reported to Treasury.

Siegesmund supplied R59 million worth of IT equipment and Fourie signed off the request as if it was for books in order to access the books' budget.

Supplier

None of the procurement protocols were followed to appoint Siegesmund as a supplier, the NPA charged.

Siegesmund was not registered on the database of registered suppliers of the Eastern Cape education department and it had very little or no experience or expertise in the supply of IT goods and services, the NPA alleged.

It was merely used as a vehicle to run the business of supplying IT equipment to the ECDoE in anticipation of being awarded the contract by the ECDoE, said the NPA.

"It is alleged a generally corrupt relationship came into existence resulting in Gwarube accepting 'gifts' like 26 laptop computers of which two were for personal benefit; a cell phone, Samsung Galaxy mini S4, for personal benefit; an agreement to accept payment of the amount of R120 486 from Border Conference Centre into an account under the control of Spectra, an account owned by Siegesmund," said Ngwema.

The case has been postponed to 8 July 2021.

Source: News24

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