Probe into school’s money trail points to misappropriation of funds

Thuto Tsebo Primary School in Lindley in Free State has been accused of misappropriation of school funds.

This after the school management failed to provide supporting documents for nearly R400 000 of expenses.

School governing body (SGB) chairperson Diphapang Mofokeng said it has been running in circles with the department of education at both district and provincial levels trying to push for disciplinary measures to be effected for the misappropriation of funds.

He said the school has continuously failed to provide invoices which the SGB has successfully paid out.

According to Mofokeng, a service provider was paid upfront, contrary to finance and procurement policies, to deliver school uniforms which were never delivered.

Some pupils have even left the school while others have outgrown the sizes they ordered, he charged.

He added that pupils were also overcharged for transport on school trips and the funds did not reflect on any of the school’s bank statements.

“This matter has been ongoing for a long time. An investigation was conducted but the department is not taking any action to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

“The findings of the investigation show that most of the funds were not accounted for. No slips and no signatures which left us wondering who approved it all.

“We want those who are involved to be held accountable.

“The principal of the school also made it clear that he will not refund all the people that ordered uniforms. Where is this money going then? It is possibly around R60 000.”

He added that the SGB has tried to get the school’s audited financial statements, however, this yielded not results as the principal allegedly put a red tape on their access.

In a feedback report on inspection of financial records of the school, the department found that several payments had no supporting documents or invoices.

The school spent R12 000 on profiles for learners but no supporting documents were received.

This is similar to the R23 580 spent for transporting pupils to Welkom, R12 469.30 used for water and electricity, and R7 731.50 for service and metre readings – among others.

About R10 500 was spent on prize-giving meals but the investigation found that the meals were bought for staff members, and there was a shortage of R833.54.

“Expenditure is incurred monthly in spite of not having meetings to approve those transactions. Supporting documents are not attached to relevant payment requisitions.

“Payments of huge amounts are paid without following proper financial regulations, e.g DataMind Company was paid R20 865 for textbooks dated 07/01/2022 and Pearson Company was paid R53 694.90 for textbooks dated 28/01/2022,” reads the report.

“The school payment trend from the former acting principal, Mr Shabalala, to Mr Khambule the current principal [shows that] both of them continued from the wrong footing of paying without supporting documents.

“From January to July 2022, Mr Shabalala paid R182 023.37 without attaching supporting documents, [and] from July 2022 to February 2023 Mr Khambule used the same system to pay R211 255.23.”

The report says the circuit manager should discourage the form of payment used at the school.

“Finance training has been conducted across the district as to what must be done in financial documents and what validates a perfect payment,” reads the report.

Free State education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba failed to respond to Sunday World’s enquiries.


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