Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande File picture: Simone Kley/Independent Media
Durban – Holders of fake or fraudulently obtained qualifications face being publicly named and shamed as well as the prospect of criminal prosecution.

In a statement released on Thursday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said: “This is a matter which we take very seriously, and it is also the reason why we have embarked on legislative measures to curb these phoney qualifications, where we are proposing a roll of shame for holders of such bogus qualifications.”

According to the statement, the South African Qualifications Authority reported that between October 1 and December 31 last year (fourth quarter of 2016), 52 foreign qualifications had been found to have been forged, while 17 national qualifications were misrepresented. SAQA had also as at the end of January recorded a total of 1 276 cases where the qualifications had been misrepresented.

Some 78 affidavits had been completed and handed over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (commonly known as the Hawks) to investigate, with a view to ultimately prosecuting.

"One of the most precious things any country can have is the credibility of its qualifications and higher education system, which is why we are acting robustly on the scourge. By the way, if one lies about one's qualifications or produces a false certificate, that is fraud even in terms of existing law," said Nzimande.

Last year new regulations were published, which will force employers to refer their employees’ degrees for validation and verification.