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EC Education wraps up 'ghost pupils' probe

The department recently unearthed 30,000 'ghost pupils' following a three-year investigation.

Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Eastern Cape Education Department has concluded its investigation into ' ghost pupils', but it still faces the 'ghost teachers' scandal.

Former African National Congress (ANC) Chief Whip Stone Sizani's wife faces 16 counts of fraud and 10 counts of money laundering.

Pankie Sizani allegedly pocketed more than R1 million by processing several fake applications for Grade R teaching posts.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Tsepo Ndwalaza says, "The state has finished its arguments and is waiting on the defence to respond."

'GHOST PUPILS' SAGA EXPLAINED:

Preliminary findings of the three-year investigation by the provincial department uncovered more than 30,000 pupils do not exist, yet they have been on the provincial education system for years.

One pupil has, until recently, been on the education system since 1952.

The removal of the 'ghost pupils' will now save the department more than R60 million.

Democratic Alliance (DA) provincial education spokesperson Edmund van Vuuren says many school principals inflated the number of pupils in their schools.

"The higher the number of pupils, the higher the particular school is graded and that means a higher salary for the principal."

He's explained why it's taken so long to root-out corruption.

"A lot of these schools are in deep rural areas and most are inaccessible. You cannot use those roads with the result that they cannot be monitored."

Both provincial education department spokespeople have been unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, the 'ghost teachers' trial continues next month.