Incidents of procurement corruption uncovered at South African university

9 February 2012

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8 February 2012 | Adam Leach

The South African Government has called on the courts to impose “maximum sentences” on students and staff at the University of Zululand who are found guilty of fraud.

It is thought some students may have been paying some administration staff in return for fake degrees, while, according to minister for higher education Blade Nzimande, procurement irregularities include paid suppliers who are owned or co-owned by university employees providing services to the university without declaring their interests.

Following the publication of an audit, which uncovered a number of concerns around how the university carries out its business, the government has announced that 15 individuals, a mixture of students and staff, will face criminal prosecution and disciplinary action.

Nzimande said: “Criminal cases will be opened with our law enforcement agencies, criminal proceedings will be instituted and we will call on our courts to impose the maximum sentence where cases are proven.”

The audit, which was carried out by Professor Chris de Beer, uncovered a number of “serious and repeated transgressions” by both staff and students. It also found “repeated infringement” of the institutions procurement policies and procedures, relating to individuals receiving preferential treatment. In addition, it found instances of unwarranted access to student data; breaches of protocol in relation to the issuing and auditing of degree and diploma certificates, and irregular admission and registration of students.

Elsewhere, an investigation between energy company Eskom and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to fight corruption was formally authorised this week. As a result, the SIU can now order any person by notice in writing to: produce or deliver specified books documents or objects; and/or appear in person before the SIU to answer questions under oath or affirmation.

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