Principal accused of awarding N$1,1m classroom tender to herself

Maureen Gottlieb

… Anti-Corruption Commission investigating

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is investigating a case in which the principal of Hermann Gmeiner Primary School in Windhoek allegedly awarded a tender to construct classrooms to a company in which she is a co-owner.

The tender was for the construction of six classrooms, a storeroom and toilets, and cost the school more than N$1,1 million.

School principal Maureen Gottlieb allegedly awarded the classroom tender without following the procurement policy.

ACC spokesperson Josephine Nghituwamata confirmed the allegations in an interview with The Namibian last week.

“The investigations in this case are still ongoing. I will, however, sit with the investigator responsible for the investigations to see if there is something ready to be shared,” she said.

Gottlieb declined to comment and referred The Namibian to educational director Paulus Nghikembua, saying he is the only one permitted to comment on the matter.

“You can call my director, he can comment on the investigations,” she said.

Nghikembua said Gottlieb has not been suspended as investigations are ongoing.

“We are aware of the allegations, and it is under investigation. The case is in the process of a disciplinary hearing. The principal cannot be suspended because the case is still ongoing until she is found guilty, however, the classrooms are done already,” he said.

Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture executive director Sanet Steenkamp confirmed that the ministry had given attention to the matter.

“We have given attention to it and we have investigated the whole issue. However, you can contact the regional director to give you more information,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of the parents, school board chairperson Hilya Kambonde said they want the principal to be dismissed.

“We want the principal gone, and we want the school back on its feet, because the principal did much damage to the school.
“Things have gotten better because of the parents’ board that is now in place, however, it does not count out what has been damaged.

“The ministry is also aware of what our position is regarding this matter; we want to recover what is ours from the principal, who wants to eat the school’s money, which we will not allow. The fact that ACC has decided to pursue the case means our allegations are not vague,” she said.

A detailed statement issued by Kambonde notes that around September 2021, she questioned the principal on the school board Whats­App group on whether the school was building new classes without the knowledge of the board.

According to Kambonde, the company received more than the quoted amount as it was also paid for the fitment of whiteboards, blackboards, and notice boards in the constructed classes, to a total amount of N$9 000, and further payments were also done amounting to N$6 115.

Kambonde, in her statement, also highlighted various offences the principal allegedly committed, ranging from giving a N$20 000 personal loan to one of the staff members without the board’s approval, missing deadlines to deposit school funds into the school bank account and disregarding the school financial guidelines.

She is also alleging that between April 2021 and September 2022, a car registered in the principal’s name was fuelled at least three times at Bach Street Service Station in Windhoek West at the expense of the school, which the principal admitted.

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