Two days before the start of the new school term, the Eastern Cape Education Department is facing a series of court cases involving pupil transport, nutrition and stationery.
Last week, the Bhisho High Court ordered that a pupil transport tender be readvertised after Uncedo Service Taxi Association approached the court. The court also said alternative transport must be provided for the first term.
In another case, African Dynamics Limited is seeking a judgment against the department for more than R425 100 in unpaid invoices.
According to documents before court, in 2009 the department entered into a school-feeding contract with Mzola Trading Enterprise CC, which then signed a contract with African Dynamics.
Between 2009 and 2010, the department made four payments to Mzola Trading Enterprise of more than R1.6-million. The department has never made any payments to African Dynamics and did not know about the payments to Mzola until last year.
African Dynamics claiming 9% interest.
But the court heard there were now negotiations between the parties and the matter has been postponed to February 10.
Department spokesman Mali Mtima said: “The department is treading very carefully on the matters before court to ensure needy learners are not compromised, but are protected. That is our core business.”
Mtima would not be drawn on whether pupils would be fed from Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Ikwezi Computers and Stationers is asking the department to provide all the documents relating to the awarding of a tender for learner teacher support material (LTSM) to Siegesmund Trust and Macmillan SA.
In an affidavit, Allan Pillay, of Ikwezi, said the department “did not follow the required tendering process.
DA MPL Edmund van Vuuren said: “We are starting the year on the wrong footing. If service providers are not paid, it is the pupils who suffer.
“When it comes to tenders, they must be done in a transparent manner and all must be accountable.”
Mtima said: “During the first week of the term we are going to wrap up the delivery of stationery. A minority of our schools do not have their own storage housing, so the stationery was kept elsewhere.”
– Siya Boya