Corruption exposed in KZN education’s sanitary towel project

sanitary pad
sanitary pad

Non delivery and oversupply leads to large financial losses.

A forensic investigation has revealed that R4 million worth of sanitary towels had not been delivered to KwaZulu-Natal district offices and schools to help girl-learners living in rural communities.

The forensic report presented by KZN MEC of Education, Kwazi Mshengu on Thursday found that 388 680 packs had not been delivered to the head office as well as district offices in KZN.

A further 64 269 packs were not delivered to schools. Each of these packs, which contain a large number of sanitary towels, is valued at just over R4 310.

Mshengu said that during 2016, the department launched a pilot project to provide underprivileged girl learners with sanitary towels. A value of R20 million was set aside to benefit 900 000 learners. In August 2017, the programme was expanded at a cost to the department of more than R129 million. 

This resulted in an substantial oversupply, leading some schools to allegedly distribute the sanitary towels to Grade R and 1 learners. More than 2 million sanitary towel packs were not needed, and site visits in each district office confirmed significant surplus stock stored in various places.

The forensic investigation was launched by former education MEC, Mthandeni Dlungwana after allegations of corruption in the project emerged in 2018.

Since the outcome of the investigation, Mshengu said four senior officials had been suspended and will face appropriate disciplinary action.

The officials are the deputy director-general for the Institutional Development Support Branch, the chief director for Social Enrichment Programmes, the director for Special Needs Education and the director for Employee Relations. 

According to Mshengu, these officials were responsible for the mismanagement of the project resulting in oversupply and financial loss to the Department.

Earlier, IOL reported that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) accused the department of commercialising the initiative, while the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) complained that schools were overwhelmed with sanitary pads and did not have space to store them.

Natu alleged the situation was out of control and some boys used them as shin guards when playing soccer.