Mandela school in Mvezo is ‘broke’

Mthatha - The R100m Nelson Mandela School of Science & Technology in Mvezo is broke, and the Eastern Cape education MEC wants its school governing body disbanded.

Alfred Lumkwana, chairperson of the school governing body, told City Press that the school did not have “even a cent” in its bank account, despite a R15m windfall from international engineering firm Siemens, which has supported the school for the past three years.

Among others on the school governing body is Nelson Mandela’s eldest grandson, Mandla, who declined to comment, and his mother, Nolusapho.

Lumkwana said: “We don’t have a cent in the account of the school for essential services. We only started being in control of the school’s affairs in mid-January.

"It was only then that we had access to the financial statements, which revealed that millions had been pumped into the school and we are shocked that now there is nothing left.

"We don’t even have money to operate and fix school buses. There is absolutely nothing left.

“The school is bankrupt. I cannot hide that from anyone. We are worried because we don’t know how we are going to pay the salaries of teachers employed by the school governing body.

"The money that has been invested by Siemens at the school has clearly been misused. We have written to Siemens to ask it to intervene.”

Earlier this month, City Press visited the school and found that pupils had to walk long distances to class because the buses that Siemens provided were broken. The water pump at the school also doesn’t work, leaving the school with no water, despite Siemens’ R5m a year contribution towards its maintenance.

MEC Mandla Makupula said principal Pat Toni, who was placed on special leave by the department late last year, would stay away until the internal investigation was finalised.

“I called for a forensic investigation because there is a lot of money at that school. There is Siemens’ money, which amounts to R15 million.

"The department also contributes about R1 million ... But with the Siemens funds, the department has no say because Siemens has its own system that also involves the Mvezo Traditional Council,” he said.

He said the investigation had already shown that there had been misuse of school funds – “not only by the principal, but also by members of the school governing body”.

He said he wanted the SGB disbanded because the problems at the school happened under its watch. Makupula said teachers and parents allegedly “borrowed” money from school coffers, and his risk management unit found that some money was not accounted for.

Keshin Govender, head of corporate communications at Siemens said they have requested a copy of a recent forensic audit report and should they discover anything irregular they will “launch a thorough investigation into any mismanagement”.

Toni said he had not been asked to provide his side of the story.