Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has instructed her legal team to sue Vytjie Mentor for defamation following a Facebook post alleging that her department had lost R42 billion in one financial year.
"Minister Motshekga not only condemns these lies in the strongest possible terms, but has decided to instruct her lawyers to follow on this matter and sue Mentor for defamation of character. The hurtful and defamatory lies are completely unnecessary," spokesperson Troy Martens said.
"The Minister cannot let these lies go unchallenged that seek to undermine the immense progress that has been made in terms of infrastructure delivery and tarnish her own reputation. The allegations, therefore, are completely unfounded and demand of her to clear her name."
In her post, Mentor apparently uploaded a picture of students sitting at desks outside a classroom, with a caption, "R42bn missing in one financial year and Matriculants in EC writing exams out in the open in Nov 2016. No classes, but Minister's child aged 22 drives a Lamborghini."
Motshekga poured cold water over the claims. Martens said the "lies" had absolutely no basis in the truth and were a weak attempt to besmirch the reputation of the minister. She said they had since established the origins of the picture that was used.
'It was Grade 10 learners'
"We have asked the Eastern Cape Department of Education to investigate the circumstances of the picture and they have confirmed that it was Grade 10 learners," she said, adding that they had asked the department to explain why learners were sitting at desks outside, and had called for action to be taken against those responsible.
Martens said the picture was taken in the Libode district of the Eastern Cape. She said the area had been the biggest beneficiary of the school building programme, as it was a very rural area made up mostly of mud schools.
"In a bid to eradicate mud schools and unsafe structures, to date 53 new state of the art schools have been built in this district through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) alone, and another 10 are at various stages of implementation. In fact, just last week the Minister handed over one of these new schools, Bungu JSS, over to the community of Libode. Government is working extremely hard to ensure that learners go to school in an environment that is conducive for learning and teaching," she said.