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Bogus tour agent swindling schools

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By Starsky Mkhonta - SWAZI OBSERVER-08-Oct-2009

THERE is an alleged bogus tour agent in the Kingdom who has robbed a number of schools that undertake trips locally and beyond the country’s borders.

In the Shiselweni region, the said agent has swindled Ngwane Practising Primary School at least E21 000. The man is said to be based in Mbabane and some schools are alleged to have used him to coordinate trips for them.

Another school is around Madulini, sources have revealed. The said ‘agent’ when he started the deal with Ngwane Practising way back in 1999, was rather helpful as all the trips the school undertook materialised without any hiccups. One of the senior teachers at Ngwane Practising Milton Manana confirmed that they had been ‘swindled’ over E21 000 by the agent. Manana said their relationship with the agent started being rocky in 2007 when the school had undertaken a trip to Durban. Manana said while in Durban, they were nearly kicked out of the resorts they were booked in after the management claimed they were owing because the number of days stayed were more than the amount paid for.

For the Durban trip in 2007, Manana said they had paid at least close to E100 000 to cover all the expenses, including accommodation and transport but at the end, it transpired that not all paid for.

“We had raised E97 000 for the trip in 2007 which covered everything but our agent turned around to claim the money was not enough when we were in Durban,” said Manana. “We were asked to take all our belongings out of the rooms. We were shocked and as the man who coordinated the trip was not around, we had no alternative but to vacate the rooms. We waited for him until he emerged and then we enquired from him what was going on. He talked to the managers and we were given our keys for the duration of the days we had planned for,” said Manana.

It was the same story only last month when some students from the school were to undergo an educational tour around the country and the same agent was used to coordinate. It is said students had paid over E21 000 but when the trip was to take place, it came as a big shock that the money that had been given to the agent did not reach its destination. When parents had prepared some provisions and other stuff for their children, they were shocked to see their children returning early and explained what happened.

Seeing that the issue could get out of hand with some of the parents the school called a meeting where the issue was discussed.

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