Education ministry probes alleged fraud
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Johanna Absalom, says officials were sent from the head office of the education ministry on Monday to investigate an alleged multi-million dollar fraud.
The probe arises from reports that an accountant in the education directorate at Rundu allegedly embezzled millions between 2013 and September 2016.
“The ministry sent a team to investigate this week,” Absalom confirmed to New Era in an email response on Monday. The education directorate in Rundu suspects the accountant embezzled millions and several teachers whose bank accounts the money was deposited into under the guise they were receiving bonuses are also being investigated.
“The whole amount is not yet determined, as the auditors have not yet finalised their inspections, but from August to September 2016 the ministry was defrauded of N$239 700,” revealed the chief regional officer for Kavango East Regional Council, Ludwig Thikusho, who oversees the work of the education directorate.
“During August 2016 alone there were 25 transactions with 10 teachers, with some of their names appearing more than once. And all those 25 transactions each reflect an amount of N$9 600, as if a bonus was being paid,” Thikusho noted.
After the accountant reportedly transferred the funds she would share the proceeds with teachers and other education officials whose accounts she used.
“Yes, the payroll for the Directorate of Education is handled in Windhoek, but we do have terminals here that can update information,” Thikusho added. Thikusho instructed the acting director of education in the region, Christine Shilima, to open a case with the police. Thikusho could, however, not be reached to give an update on the matter.
Absalom was unable to answer all questions that New Era emailed to her a week ago, saying she “will include that in the comprehensive response”.
New Era asked her in the email to give information on the ongoing investigations into the fraud case that involves the accountant and others but she was unable to confirm whether the accountant and her accomplices have resigned. A case was opened against the suspected accountant but the police have not yet arrested anybody.
“It is too early to make an arrest, but investigations are ongoing and officials from the head office of the Ministry of Education have also arrived to investigate the matter,” said Kavango East regional crime investigations coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Willie Bampton.