Principal fears for his life after accused of misusing funds

Youth and parents of learners allege that the principal is misusing school funds because he is under-paying two SGB teachers. Photo by Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

The school principal abandoned his post after he was accused by parents and community members of misusing school funds.

Nonkululeko Senior Secondary School in Rwantsana village in Cacadu (formerly Lady Frere) is currently without a school principal after he was accused by parents and community members of misusing school funds.

The principal has not been seen at the school since last month. Grade 12 learners had to be sent to a nearby school for exams. Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Malibongwe Mtima, said  principal, Nkosiyabo Klaas, is alleging that his life is under threat and he is afraid to go to the school.

According to parents of learners at this school, they been paying a R100 a month for two School Governing Body (SGB) teachers. The school has 92 learners from Grades 8 to 12 and seven teachers, and two SGB teachers who assist in Xhosa and English language classes.

Each SGB teacher is paid R2,500 a month while the school collects R9,200 from the learners. However, since the lockdown parents have been struggling to make the payments.

Klaas said problems between him, parents and community members  started on 16 October. On this day he had called parents for a meeting to discuss the SGB teacher payments. He said while he was preparing to start the meeting a group of young people who called themselves concerned residents from the community entered the school unannounced.

He said they demanded the school’s financial books. “They told me to use the money for the infrastructure budget to pay the SGB teachers which I refused,” said Klaas. “It was when they started swearing at me calling me names accusing me of misusing school funds.”

“I was so scared. I told them I will call a meeting for a financial report but they did not listen,” he said.

Klaas said the community has a record of killing people and he is too scared to return to the school. “Not so long ago three people were killed in that village; I cannot risk my life,” he said. He was referring to a case where three suspected rapists, accused of killing an old woman in the area, were stoned to death and their bodies set alight.

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However, parents and community members say that Klaas is running away because he has misused school funds. SGB chairperson, Makhosandile Zono, said a group of young people from the village asked to intervene after there were rumours that the school is to be closed due to the dropping number of learners.

He said the group went to the school to see where they can assist.

“It’s was then they heard that the school has no money, something which came as a surprise to us because parents have been paying R100 since 2019 and there must be a change,” said Zono. “They then demanded to see the school’s financial records from 2019.”

Zono said Klaas was given three days to prepare the school financial records but has since not returned to the school. He said the matter was reported to the district but nothing has been done.

Speaking for concerned residents, Phathiswa Hoza said they are disappointed with how the department is handling the matter. She said as young people in the area, they are concerned about the school, starting with its shortage of teachers, the dropping number of learners, the matric pass rate, and infrastructure among other things.

“Parents are paying R100 a month and the SGB teachers are paid half of the amount collected from learners every month. Lockdown happened, children are at home and parents are struggling to send the money to the school. Remember this money is collected by learners when they are at school. Now the principal is telling us that he has used the school money to pay the SGB teachers and parents must pay it back,” said Hoza.

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“Now when we calculate the months starting from the lockdown to now, the amount is going to be too much for parents to pay at once. And they cannot afford it. We then asked the principal what happened to the money left over from 2019 which was paid by parents and why he did not use it to pay these teachers. Secondly, there’s money for maintenance. Since he started as an acting principal in 2019 till now no maintenance has been done in this school.,” said Hoza 

“Then he told us the school  has no money but how? He failed to answer that. Hence we asked him to show us the school financial records from 2019,” she said.

Mtima said as the education department they are not aware of the allegations of misuse of funds. He said the SGB was told to inform parents to write a letter to the department with their complaints.

“The response we received from the SGB was that the community of Rwantsana resolved not to write any letter to the department and they want the principal Mr Klaas, not the department. Under these circumstances, the department is unable to thoroughly investigate and assist without the report from the SGB,” said Mtima.

Adding that the five teachers are enough for the school, he said the school has a duplicate teacher in commercial subjects and they should have utilised the other post for languages.

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