DURBAN - Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, vice-chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to fighting corruption at all levels. He was speaking just days after more than 200 staff computers were seized during an investigation into fraud at the institution.
Earlier this year, it emerged that there was a cash-for-place scam in operation at UKZN’s medical school.
“A whistle-blower was the catalyst, and an in-depth investigation was initiated in June last year, after the university’s Forensics Unit received information that a student had allegedly submitted a fraudulent matric certificate and identity document to gain entry into the Bachelor of Medicine (MBChB) programme,” he said.
At the time, it was alleged that students were altering their population group on admission documents from Indian to Coloured for the purposes of gaining access to the MBChB programme. It was further alleged that students who did not score high enough percentages in their subjects, but still met the minimum requirements, were being admitted to the MBCHB programme.
“As a result of a preliminary internal investigation and submissions received from the SRC, UKZN instructed KPMG to carry out an investigation.
“A confidential report was prepared by KPMG recording its findings. This report is now material evidence in the ongoing investigation into the admission fraud,” said Van Jaarsveld.
Between August 2016 and January this year, it also came to light that various UKZN staff members, who were not employed within UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, had unlawfully made repeated attempts to enlist students in the MBChB degree programme by accessing the UKZN online network to make fraudulent offers and confirmation of acceptances to students who had applied for the programme.
These fraudulent offers were immediately revoked by UKZN once uncovered, and none of the students who received such offers were enrolled.
“During the latter half of January this year, UKZN got a tip-off which suggested that a syndicate was in operation and facilitating the fraudulent admission of students to the medical school. The police were immediately notified and requested to investigate,” said Van Jaarsveld.
During an investigation between UKZN, Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), three members of the syndicate were arrested on May 12. The three allegedly were fraudulently facilitating the admission of students.
While the enactments of internal disciplinary proceedings by UKZN were initially suspended on instruction from the NPA, these proceedings are now under way and are sanctioned by the NPA.
UKZN would continue to work with the Hawks and NPA to ensure that all those found guilty will face the full might of the law. On Monday, the university council delegated responsibility for the oversight of this investigation to the council executive committee (Exco).