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More allegations in West Ridge High saga

Was a previous investigation at West Ridge High School swept under the carpet?

29 February 2012 | Clinton Botha

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Further damning allegations have been made that previous reports about the West Ridge High School governing body's mismanagement and disregard for the Schools Act had been swept under the carpet.

This was stated by a former financial manager at the school after last week's exposé by the Record that West Ridge High School school funds were allegedly misused when two school officials were sent to attend two private weddings in Zimbabwe.

Winston Morrell, former financial manager at the school for 12 years, who resigned in November 2009, said: "Nothing was done regarding a previous investigation which I brought to the attention of the Department of Education."

Morrell said that in March last year he had written a letter to the Minister of Education, Angie Motshekga in which he explained that, "When a governing body utterly disregard(s) the Schools Act and any other applicable laws, drastic action can be instituted when instruction comes from the very top, for the situation to be rectified.

"I have met with the principal on numerous occasions and even put the whole sordid tale in writing to him. I have now been barred from talking to the staff of the school."

Morrell said the only response he got to the urgent matter came from the GDoE Administrative Secretary, Mzi Khala, on 12 April 2011, who stated: "The matter you have raised falls within the jurisdiction of the MEC for Education in the Gauteng Province, and the Minister cannot intervene directly.

"She has therefore taken the liberty of forwarding your letter to the MEC, from whom you may expect a further response soon."

Morell says since then he has received no response whatsoever regarding the matter.

"Nothing was done and there was no outcome to the investigation," Morrell added.

"Action can be taken under Section 25 of the Schools Act, namely failure by governing body to perform its functions," he said.

• Concerning the latest allegation that school principal Sydney Mashige and treasurer Smanga Toli were sent to Zimbabwe to attend the weddings of two of the school's teachers, the Gauteng Department of Education was, at the time of going to print, still investigating the alleged abuse of school funds.

According to the Department's Charles Phahlene, "It could take some time for investigators to properly investigate."

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