By Sinegugu Ndlovu
The proliferation of fake matric certificates has led to KwaZulu-Natal police and education authorities sending a stern warning about legal repercussions to people caught trying to gain entry to tertiary institutions using the fake papers.
Kroll, the world's leading screening and risk consultancy company, said 14 percent of checked South African qualifications had been tampered with.
Kroll register administrator Nina de Winter said: "The number of matric certificates with risk associated to them continues to increase.
"Having risk associated means that they may have a symbol changed, right up to the certificate possibly being completely fake and the person never having done matric.
Eugene du Plooy, a spokesperson for Umalusi, the exams quality control body, said 1 246 fake matric certificates were positively identified this year.
Police Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said: "Records are stored on government archives and we have access to them.
"You can't fool yourself by thinking that you can get away with using fake papers because we will pick it up. You'll be caught and you may also be prosecuted and go to jail," he said.
Unisa spokesperson Doreen Gough said the institution was experiencing an increase in the number of people trying to use fraudulent certificates to gain entry.
Gough warned that Unisa prosecuted students caught using fake documents, urging them to take advantage of the university's access courses instead.
"People need to have proper education grounding when they go into higher learning. Only passing your matric will give you that crucial grounding," she said.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal reported a few isolated cases of fake matric certificates that were "identified and dealt with accordingly".