UKZN's Nelson R Mandela medical school. File photo: Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).
UKZN's Nelson R Mandela medical school. File photo: Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

Businessman challenges UKZN over medical school probe

By WENDY JASSON DA COSTA Time of article published Oct 13, 2019

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Durban businessman Visham Panday has turned to the city's High Court to compel the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to release information about its multi-million rand investigation dubbed Operation Clever.

This comes after the institution refused to release information to him despite an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) in July.

Panday has asked the court to set aside UKZN’s decision not to give him the information, that the university's information officer provide it within 20 days since the papers were lodged in court and that UKZN pay for the cost of the application. If UKZN decides to oppose the matter it would be heard in court in February.

Operation Clever was instituted more than two years ago after it emerged that students were paying to get into UKZN’s Nelson Mandela Medical School. 

In a notice of motion filed in the Durban High Court last week, Panday said he wanted to know the outcome of Operation Clever, and for how long and at what cost UKZN had provided a safe house for Avril Sahadew, the lead investigator in the case. Panday also requested to know how much it cost the university to provide Sahadew with bodyguards.

In its response to Panday's PAIA application earlier this year, UKZN's legal representative said it was not a public body, was not obliged to share information with Panday and that its client's rights “continue to remain strictly reserved in the interim”. 

In the documents recently lodged in court, Panday said that he had created the VP Justice Foundation which was “dedicated to exposing corruption and assisting the voiceless who do not have the means to seek truth and justice.”

He said in 2018 he became aware of a syndicate which allegedly offered students an opportunity to study medicine at UKZN by paying for it. He said it also came to his knowledge that there was someone without the required medical degree who pretended to be a qualified medical doctor and that another individual had gained entry to study at the institution without having matric.

Following that, he “sourced” information from various people who could not be named and approached Sahadew with the information.

According to Panday, he and Sahadew continued to communicate with each other for several months until the relationship turned sour at the end of 2018, due to an unrelated matter.

In March, the Sunday Tribune reported that UKZN had secured an interdict to stop Panday from communicating with its employees over the Operation Clever investigation.

Sunday Tribune

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