On 24 August there was a horrific bus accident near Rheenendal, Knysna, in which 14 children and the driver lost their lives.
The immediate response of the provincial government was to blame the testing station which roadworthied the bus. This testing station was closed down by MEC Carlisle in person. This act by the MEC has subsequently been overturned by the High Court.
On 21 October the audit committee of the Department of Education reported to Scopa that, “the Committee expresses its concern with effectiveness of internal control in view of material deficiencies in internal control and non-compliance with certain laws and regulations, as identified by the Auditor-General… Five of the seven internal audit reports issued during the year under review contained recommendations to improve controls and enhance efficiencies. The reports covered leave management, learning and teaching support material, performance information, interim financial statements and learner transport.” (page 96)
Given the public interest generated by the unfortunate accident in Rheenendal, I asked the audit committee and department a number of questions with regard to the internal audit report on learner transport. In discussion in Scopa it emerged that the internal audit report recommended that the Education Department establish an independent bus inspection team to ensure that transport procured by the department meets the requirements of the contracts between the department and the service providers.
It also emerged that the report recommended that key posts in this regard be filled as soon as possible, as this independent bus inspection by the education department was not taking place. Scopa requested a copy of the internal audit report from the department. The department refused to make the report available and the Head of Department, Ms Vinjevold, told the committee that she would consult with the Premier before informing Scopa on the 25 October whether she would make the report available.
This deadline has passed and Scopa has made a number of enquiries to the department to get the report, but the report has still not been made available. This defiance of Scopa and the proclaimed open policies of the DA government seems to indicate that the Premier and the department are trying to cover-up the findings of the internal audit report.
Given the scale of the tragedy in Rheenendal which has generated intense public interest, and the need of the families to know what happened to their loved ones, the ANC calls on the provincial Education Department to immediately make the internal audit available to Scopa, failing which the ANC will pursue other legal avenues to place this document in the public domain.
Issued by Max Ozinsky MPL, ANC Spokesperson on Scopa in the Western,CapeProvincialLegislature.