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Matric exam leak spreads

2015-11-22 05:45

The second matric life sciences examination paper leaked in Limpopo on Monday was also distributed to pupils in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

City Press can also reveal that education officials investigating the Limpopo leak have expanded their probe to include a leak of the first life sciences exam written last Friday.

Now the national basic education department is investigating whether other matric exam papers were also leaked.

In a statement released last night, spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “The department is not limiting its investigation to life sciences paper 2 since other papers may have also been compromised. Learners in other provinces who may have had contact with the learners in the Vhembe district are being investigated.”

A confidential letter City Press has obtained, sent to senior basic education department officials in Gauteng, reveals that they became aware of the life sciences paper 2 leak on Thursday, three days after it was written.

The letter, written by examinations management director Prince Masilo, was addressed to provincial department head Edward Mosuwe, and examinations and assessment chief director Bheki Ngubane.

The letter reveals that four pupils from two schools in Nigel, Gauteng, had received the exam paper.

The names of the pupils and the schools are known to City Press, but the authorities have asked us not to publish them.

The letter says that on November 19, officials received a call about the leak from the district director of the Gauteng east region.

“The paper emanated from Limpopo province. The district immediately ­located candidates involved and ­conducted investigations. Candidates provided statements.

“The main candidate’s tablet was ­confiscated as it contained all the ­evidence required. This candidate also distributed the paper to two candidates in Mpumalanga province.”

In the letter, Masilo says officials met Hawks detectives and the case will be ­prosecuted at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria.

Yesterday, Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi confirmed the leak.

“I got a detailed report about the leak yesterday. We gave it to the Hawks to work on it.”

Lesufi said he believed the leak was not widespread, but an “isolated case”.

“I think it is one parent, who is our ­employee in Limpopo, who took advantage of our security arrangement.”

A senior official from the national ­department, who asked not to be named, said the two Gauteng schools had been “quarantined” to prevent further leaks.

Meanwhile, Mpumalanga education spokesperson Jasper Zwane said he­ was not aware of “any leaks in our ­province”.

“Our systems are so tight it would not have leaked without us discovering it.

“I am 100% confident that it didn’t happen here. In the past six years, we have been making sure there would be no leaks here,” he said.

On Tuesday, the department of basic education announced that a team had been appointed to investigate the leaking of life sciences paper 2 at Marude ­Secondary School in Thohoyandou.

But City Press has established that ­paper 1 was also leaked.

An executive at the matric exam ­quality assurance body, Umalusi, and a senior official in the national department confirmed the leak.

The Umalusi executive said: “I visited Limpopo and was shocked by their security room. I knew from there that the ­papers would leak. So we were not shocked when we were told about the leaking of life sciences paper 1 and 2. Their security was too shallow.

“Our CEO also visited the province and had a chat with the MEC. The MEC was frank and promised to address our concerns, but it was too little too late.”

In a statement, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga hinted that other question papers might have also leaked.

Investigators at Marude Secondary have “questioned a total of eight learners ... suspected of being in possession of the life sciences question paper and ­seven of them have admitted to having access to the question paper prior to the writing of the examination”, he said.

“The interviews have revealed that the learners who may have had access to the question paper extends beyond the one school mentioned at the press briefing.”

Mhlanga said 11 schools in the district might have had access to the paper.

“Indications are that a few learners in each of these schools were provided with electronic copies of the paper from their friends,” he said.

“We have isolated quite a number of people and we are very close to ­identifying the source of the leak.

“We are definitely going to press ­criminal charges,” said Mhlanga.

He said the department would audit pupils’ scripts and look into their ­previous results.

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June 16 2019