The department confirmed on Monday that no examination paper had been leaked.
“In the fake letter, headed ‘notice of illegal distribution of matric final examination’, the writer states that a maths question was leaked.
“This information is false. While the so-called circular has our logo, it has no address, contact details or the name of the author. It is clearly designed to cause confusion,” said department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.
The letter reportedly claims a maths paper was leaked in the Eastern Cape and so would have to be rewritten.
The department said it had not opened a criminal case as the source of the hoax letter was not clear.
While some matric pupils started writing two weeks ago, the exams began in earnest for most with English paper 1 and mathematics paper 1 last week.
On Monday pupils wrote mathematics paper 2, mathematical literacy 2 and technical mathematics 2 from 9am. Some candidates wrote visual arts in the afternoon.
Mhlanga said the department viewed the misleading communication seriously.
“It has the potential to cause confusion and anxiety among Grade 12 pupils writing their examinations.
“We urge parents, teachers, pupils and department officials to ignore the fake letter and stay focused on the job at hand,” said Mhlanga.
He said examinations were proceeding well across the country and no circular had been issued regarding any paper rewrites.
“We call on our pupils and teachers to continue to demonstrate commitment and good conduct as the examinations continue,” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal education spokesperson, Muzi Mahlambi, said while they had not received any complaints about the hoax letter, they had been concerned when it emerged.
“Had it been true, we would have had to take extraordinary steps.
“We are happy with the progress of the exams. We have completed the first week and are on to the second.
“There have been no disturbances. All of the pupils are writing and we would like to thank the community for their consideration,” he said.
He said the response and conditions of exam writing had made them hopeful they would achieve the 80% pass rate target set for the province.
Lucky Ditaunyane, senior manager: public relations and communications for Umalusi, the examinations integrity body, said they first saw the hoax letter on Friday and contacted the Department of Education.
He said Umalusi was satisfied with the department’s explanation.
“We are very disappointed that there are people out there peddling false information at such a time. What we want is for the exams to go smoothly and for the integrity of the exams not to be compromised,” he said.