Bidvest was given no tender, they offered a PPE donation, explains Lesufi

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi speaks at the Gauteng department of education's press briefing on the Parktown Boys' High drowning debacle, 24 January 2020. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Two districts in Gauteng have experienced disruptions in the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says.

Lesufi visited Bryanston High School on Monday, where he conducted a visit to monitor its readiness and to give an update on the progress of schools reopening in the province.

He said most schools had already started receiving the PPE, but that the two districts – Tshwane South and West – had experienced disruptions after “faceless” people claimed the tender had been given to Bidvest instead of them.

Lesufi explained that service and distribution giant Bidvest had donated protective gear and that no tender was given to it.

Police escort

“Unfortunately, there are two of our districts where there were disruptions of PPEs by faceless people who claim they want the account, the contract or tender to deliver PPEs.

“The areas that are hard hit are Tshwane South and West. Those are the areas hard hit. For example, in Tshwane West we were at 61%. Of the 103 schools that were supposed to receive PPEs, 65 didn’t receive, but we are at 61%. That’s the lowest. Those two Tshwane areas, that’s where we have a problem,” Lesufi said.

He said the police would be escorting the delivery on Monday, adding that he would be discussing the matter with the disgruntled service providers, and would explain the national health department was procuring equipment, while his office was only responsible for distributing the items.

The MEC added that members of a particular trade union were allegedly involved in the disruptions, though he didn’t name the organisation when asked.

Lesufi said the department had taken a “just-in-time” approach to delivering the PPEs, meaning they would only be delivered when teachers and pupils needed the items, to avoid the risk of break-ins at schools.

Bryanston High is one of the schools which put strict measures in place and had already received PPEs, which is why it was visited, Lesufi said.

In classrooms, desks had been spaced out to allow for physical distancing and a sanitisation station had been set up at the entrance.

The department is expected to visit various schools across the province during the week to ensure they are compliant.

No school will be allowed to operate without meeting all the department’s criteria.

The department said it would also be visiting private schools to ensure they also adhered to safety measures.

“The principals and [school management teams (SMTs)] must receive the PPEs first, and then invite teachers to come. For now, it is the SMTs, and you will see that teachers will start to come at different dates.

“Other areas, depending on our delivery schedules, they might come today, others may come tomorrow, and other areas Wednesday. By Friday, all our teachers must be back,” Lesufi said.

He said the department would be issuing schools with a set of protocols that must be followed when pupils arrived at the school gate.

He said parents dropping off their children would have to wait until they were screened. If a child showed signs of a high temperature, they would be sent back with the parent, said Lesufi.

Bryanston High principal John Skelton said the SMT had decided to deep clean the premises two weeks ago in order to be ready for the reopening.

Skelton said, while the school had bought some of its own PPEs for teachers, it had also received some from the department and was storing them.

“Around the school, there will always be sanitising stations and we will make sure they are accessible to all learners at all times. Safety and security is the most important thing for us at this school and I think we have prepared very well at Bryanston High School.”

Grades 7 and 12 are expected to return to school on 1 June.

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