Last week Primedia Broadcasting CEO and Lead SA executive, Terry Volkwyn, and I visited the Ekukhanyeni Combined School in Ramaphosa, outside Germiston. To say that we left the school distraught is an understatement.
The conditions were beyond appalling. This place, where learning is supposed to be the order of the day, is marred with scores of hungry children. Their “learning” environment lacks the basics of a desk; stationary and some classrooms sport broken windows and a general appearance of neglect. This school is sadly but one example of how we continue to fail our children.
Both Terry and I had a gut feeling that something was very wrong here. We subsequently made contact with the Gauteng MEC for Education, Barbara Creecy to find out whether this school was receiving a subsidy. We were shocked to learn that the school receives an annual subsidy of over R5.5-million.
We called a meeting with Reverend Josias Mabaso, the owner of the school, who admitted that he indeed receives a subsidy for the school, including R15-million for another school of the same name in Denver. He conceded that the Denver school was also in a similar state of disrepair – although I have not seen it myself.
After the first meeting when I confronted the reverend with the mounting evidence of the misappropriation of funds, he had the cheek to offer me a R1.2-million bribe to make the allegations “disappear” and to ensure that he doesn’t lose the subsidies. He showed absolutely no emotion or shame at trying to bribe me despite the fact that he visited us in our building and knew I headed up Crime Line or that I am the head of news and current affairs at Primedia Broadcasting. This shows how brazen the corrupt are among us.
Interestingly on the day of the sting operation I ran into Human Settlements Minister, Tokyo Sexwale who reaffirmed that our country is facing a real crisis in terms of corruption.
During the sting operation the reverend transferred unwrapped R100 notes to my briefcase on the table. Minutes before he increased his R1.2 million offer to R7 million. Unbelievable!
I cannot begin to express my shock and disgust that someone who has been entrusted to educate our youth, could be so shameless in offering a bribe to cover up the unacceptable state of affairs at the schools he owns. He showed no sympathy towards the children that go hungry, because he is pocketing the money. He showed no remorse at all. And he calls himself a man of God.
It is safe to assume that this is no isolated case. This is a sad indication of the extent and devastating effect corruption is having on our country. I am convinced that this is just the tip of the iceberg. If we didn’t bother to check up on this school, we would never have been able to uncover this gross and blatant corruption. The worst part of it is that representatives from the department inspect these schools regularly. How did they not pick up on the obvious fact that something is wrong here?
The onus is on government to root out corruption – but clearly they are unable to do so. Must communities now lead the way when it comes to corruption?
A case like this hits too close to home. These are our children. They are our future. We cannot allow this corruption to continue. I urge each and every one of you to blow the whistle if you are aware of corruption. Platforms like Crime Line and Crime Stop offer an anonymous and effective way to declare war on corruption.
If you have the information, send an SMS to 32211 or contact 08600 10111. We can make a real difference here. All we have to do is collectively declare: enough is enough!
Let’s all Lead SA, stand up, do the right thing and make a difference.