A school set up in the Eastern Cape to fulfil a lifetime dream of Nelson Mandela to bring science and technology education to the area he came from, has been tarnished by theft and mismanagement of funds of donors.
A forensic report fingered the principal and his management team at the Mandela School of Science and Technology of misusing funds received from German electronic company Siemens.
A forensic report by Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions revealed shocking details of how claims were misrepresented and manipulated after Siemens, the Royal House of Mandela and funders Siemens Stiftung mandated a probe into allegations of misappropriation of funds.
The R100-million school was the result of Siemens making a commitment in 2010 to Nelson Mandela to support the building of a school in the village of Mvezo, Eastern Cape, fulfilling the lifelong dream of Nkosi Dalibhunga Mandela, whose birthplace is Mvezo. The school was found to have had poor financial records as it did not perform bank reconciliations.
Funds received from sponsors were all deposited into one account, making it difficult to ensure specific funds received were used for their intended purpose. The report found that €66 000 (about R1.3 million) received from Siemens Stiftung was misused, with some allegedly ending up in the pockets of the principal, his bookkeeper and some school governing body members.
The report recommended criminal charges be laid against the bookkeeper, as she unduly allocated funds to herself, submitted misrepresented claims in respect of tutors to the school, purportedly spent funds on groceries and stationery, and manipulated supporting documents to mislead Siemens Stiftung and the education department.
The school misrepresented their expenses and claims submitted to Siemens Stiftung, which amounted to more than R640,000 for teaching, administration, catering and stationery, which were found to not be spent in terms of the funding agreement budget items.
Read more details about how the school's officials lined their pockets here
Payment documentation apparently submitted to Siemens Stiftung were apparently duplicated, while expenditure claims were already submitted to the department of education.
"Teachers were requested to complete claim forms for teaching services in advance without inserting the claim amounts, allowing for the claims to be manipulated by the bookkeeper," said the report.
Members of the school governing body were also implicated in the probe as the chair was found to have been paid R154,000, which could not be accounted for, while the treasurers were found to have signed cheques without supporting documents. It was recommended that Siemens, the Royal House of Mandela and Siemens Stiftung take disciplinary action against the principal and SGB members, and that the bookkeeper should be criminally charged.
Siemens Stiftung, together with Siemens, were reviewing the report and seeking legal advice on the necessary steps, the company told The Citizen.
"Siemens has zero tolerance towards corruption and unethical behaviour."
The forensic findings have also landed at the office of the public protector, who confirmed they were still assessing the merits of the complaint lodged. Numerous attempts to obtain comment from the school and principal were unsuccessful.
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