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Durban - For years he was the mouthpiece of the KwaZulu-Natal police, boldly denouncing the criminal acts of others, but Colonel Vincent Mdunge was hiding his own crime – his matric certificate was fake.
The Mercury can reveal that Mdunge, who is a spokesman based at the provincial headquarters in Durban, has resigned after his fake credentials were discovered during a nationwide police audit.
But the police have refused to say if he will be charged with fraud.
Mdunge submitted his resignation letter to provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni this week and is expected to leave within two months.
On Wednesday, provincial police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that Mdunge had resigned.
Disciplinary action was instituted, but he resigned before he could be served with a notice of suspension, he said.
Naicker said he had been taken aback by the allegations as he had worked with Mdunge for years.
“It came as a surprise but we cannot condone such activities. We respect his decision to resign from the force pending the investigation,” he said.
Naicker would not say if Mdunge would receive a golden handshake and pension payout.
He also declined to comment when asked if the police would pursue fraud charges.
“Members whose academic records differ from what they have declared to the SAPS will be dealt with in accordance with our disciplinary code and may be investigated criminally depending on the circumstances,” he said.
The verification of qualifications is part of an audit process being spearheaded by national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega.
The campaign is ongoing and the national police said on Wednesday that the statistics would be disclosed once the process was concluded.
As part of the process, officers are asked for their educational qualifications, which were then verified with the education department.
KwaZulu-Natal has two other spokesmen, Captain Thulani Zwane and Naicker.
While Mdunge appears to be the first to be caught in the audit process, officers believe there are others.
Institute of Security Studies senior researcher Johan Burger said Mdunge should be charged with fraud if the allegations were valid.
“He has to be criminally charged. It does not matter that he has resigned from the police, he still committed a crime.”
Burger said he would be “surprised” if the police knew how many officers had fake qualifications. “They took such a long time to implement this audit, so we have no statistics to deal with.”
He said that there was no standard procedure for the vetting of qualifications in the police service.
“It is a problem because the police just accept the certified copies of qualifications at face value without checking with the educational institutions or asking for the original documents.”
Labour lawyer Michael Maeso from the law firm Shepstone and Wylie said the police could take civil action to recoup the money that had been spent on Mdunge’s salary.
“They could go to court in a civil action which is separate to the criminal case. Companies often withhold the pension of these persons when it is found that fraud has taken place.”
A police colonel said Mdunge would have earned a package of R500 000 to R600 000 a year and enjoyed a state-subsidised car.
Mdunge and Ngobeni could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.