R1m study material mystery

Mystery surrounds the ownership of a stash of study material valued at more than R1-million, which has been gathering dust at an Ngcobo warehouse for a decade now.

The Eastern Cape department of education said the books did not belong to it, but struck a deal to buy educational material still in good condition.

Study material has been gathering dust at a warehouse in Ngcobo for a decade Picture: SUPPLIED

Ndiphiwe Matiwane, who owns the warehouse, said the material has been in the warehouse since 2007 after “an education department supplier” asked for storage space. The educational material has been valued at between R1.5-million and R2-million. The “supplier” paid for the space for two years then stopped without any explanation.

Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani denied that the books belonged to the department.

“We made a deal with the owner of the warehouse to take material that was still in good condition. A load was taken by the district office and was distributed among the schools in the area,” he said.

Pulumani said they were likely going to transport the material to their East London-based warehouse.

“It is premature to talk about anyone owing anybody. The ownership of the material has not been established. The only money we spent is for the material we took,” Pulumani said.

Pulumani said the material at the warehouse were first brought to their attention in 2010.

An investigation was launched into who owned the material but did not yield any results. Another probe has been commissioned, the spokesman said.

Matiwane claimed that the education department paid him initially before stopping.

“But what confused me is why were they paying me if the material was not theirs and why [did] they sent a truck to fetch some of the material,” he said, adding that he was owed more than R700000 for storing the material.

Teachers in neighbouring schools said they had a severe shortage of study materials at their schools. — sinom@dispatch.co.za

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