Patrick Chitumba Senior Reporter
ELIZABETH Nyathi, the headmistress of Amaswazi Primary School in Bulawayo’s Luveve suburb, has been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $24,000 in tuition fees and school development funds.Nyathi, 57, of 3956, Luveve and wife to prominent historian and author, Pathisa Nyathi, appeared before magistrate Gladmore Mushove at the Tredgold Magistrate court on Friday charged with two counts of theft of trust property.
She pleaded not guilty through her legal counsel, Modicai Donga of Lazarus and Sarif Legal Practitioners and was remanded out of custody to April 11 on $200 bail.
Prosecutors say Nyathi joined the school in September 2009 as headmistress and her duties covered among other things, safe operations, receipting and banking, withdrawing payments and proper administration of the school’s tuition and general purpose funds.
Between February 28 and March 22 last year, the court heard, an internal audit was conducted by the then Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture and Nyathi failed to produce supporting books, receipts or documents to show how she utilised $7,885 in tuition fees which was receipted and not banked.
She also could not account for $6,078 cash left over from withdrawn amounts for payment to service providers and $3,266 from general purpose funds from the period between August 19, 2009 and March 22 last year.
On the second count, prosecutors say Nyathi introduced and enforced the roles of the Statutory Instrument for Private Schools Development Committees, thereby declaring herself as the chief accounting officer and became signatory to the school development account.
She became responsible for the collection, banking, withdrawal and use of levy payments.
Nyathi would allegedly only consult the other signatory to the SDC account, Oscar Skombingo, the SDC chairman since 2012, only when she needed his signature for withdrawing the funds from the SDC account.
How the SDC funds were utilised was solely at Nyathi’s discretion.
Within the same period, the same internal auditors noted that Nyathi could not produce receipts or documents to show how a total of $7,845,70, withdrawn from the school coffers, was utilised.
According to the Education Statutory Instrument 379 of 1998, Nyathi had no right to be the administrator of the SDA funds.
After the audit the matter was reported to the police leading to her arrest.
Kudakwashe Jaravaza prosecuted.