$211k levy cash vanishes, headmaster under probe

Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Government has instituted investigations into allegations that Seke 1 High School headmaster Mr Chrispen Taruvinga abused at least $211 000 paid by parents in levies. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango confirmed on Monday that they were dealing with the case. This followed a letter written by Seke 1 High School Development Committee (SDC) vice chairman Mr Travor Maziwisa to the ministry alleging the fraud.

The Harare provincial education office was currently following up on the matter and would advise in due course, said Dr Utete-Masango. In the letter written on behalf of parents, Mr Maziwisa alleged systematic fraud by a syndicate that includes Mr Taruvinga. Issues that have raised eyebrows include the drilling of a borehole at a cost of $19 000, duplicated receipt books, the repair of a school bus and understating of income for 2014 by $135 844.

Reads the letter by the SDC to Dr Utete-Masango: “We discovered that the borehole was sunk at a total cost of $19 000. The borehole is an ordinary one. It has no casing, no booster pressure and pressure tank, just a submersible pump and a tank.

“Investigations made revealed that the driller was never paid $19 000. This total amount could have sunk more than five boreholes. Again the head was involved in this criminal conduct,” read the letter.

The SDC also claims that Mr Taruvinga inflated the costs of repairing a school bus by more than 100 percent.

“It is surprising that a school bus was fixed and painted for a whopping $27 000,” wrote the SDC.” It is also disheartening that after this big sum was used the bus is still not moving. It is against this background that the money was grossly abused.

“Investigations made by the committee revealed that the refurbishments made to the bus were not more than $10 000. The person who refurbished the bus confirmed receiving not more than $8 000. As the sub-accounting officer, the head was fully behind this scandal.”

The SDC further alleged that 16 receipt books were photocopied and used separately. “On 29 June (2015) the (SDC) chairlady, vice chair and the treasurer discovered some of the fraud. There were two separate receipt books with the same serial number but with different amounts and names written on it.

“On questioning the head about the issue they received (an) unconvincing response. Money receipted in this manner found its way into private pockets prejudicing the school of $53 000.”

Parents are also unhappy with the abuse of funds at the school tuckshop. They allege that $16 000 was invested into the tuckshop with $22 000 expected as return after trading but only $11 000 was realised from the investment. Initial results of an audit carried out by the Auditor-General’s Office confirmed some of the abuse.

On income, the audit notes: “The income for the financial year 2014 was understated by $135 844 as the financial statements submitted for audit showed that $275 506 was collected while after verification of source documents like receipts and debtors lists indicated that the income was $411 350.”

The audit also confirmed that receipt books were photocopied and used in fraudulent activities.

“Five receipt books are suspected to have been used to commit fraudulent activities in the 2014 financial year. It is suspected that two sets of receipt books bearing same serial numbers were being used to receipt levy fees from students,” revealed the audit.

Mr Taruvinga confirmed there were such allegations in an interview with The Herald yesterday.

“The ministry is aware that there are such allegations being levelled against me and so right now there are auditors at the school who are looking into the matter,” he said. “I cannot comment further on the issue since my job does not permit me to do so.”

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