Naledi Pandor
Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor has ordered the council of the University of Zululand to institute an independent forensic investigation into allegations of corruption at the institution.

The independent forensic investigation is expected to include the alleged fraud relating to the appointment of the vice-chancellor Professor Xoliswa Mtose, among others.

This was revealed by Pandor in a written response to a parliamentary question from the EFF’s Nontando Nolutshungu.

Nolutshungu had wanted to know the number of instances of corruption at the University of Zululand that have been reported to her department.

She had also wanted to know the outcomes of each investigation if the allegations were investigated as well as the people who were implicated and action taken.

Pandor said the department had received information about seven alleged instances of corruption at the university.

“Although the university has investigated all the cases, and put in place various punitive measures, the minister has recently directed the council to conduct an independent forensic investigation into a whole range of matters so that these allegations can be comprehensively addressed as a matter of urgency,” Pandor said.

She said one of the allegations was linked to the university being “unsuccessful in attracting an appropriate candidate before the chairperson of council requesting Professor Mtose to consider applying for the vice-chancellor position”.

Pandor said there were also allegations about the appointment of the institution's attorneys.

“The university has submitted satisfactory reports on time and in line with reporting requirements. In 2016, it received an unqualified audit opinion.”

The minister added that another allegation was the tender for infrastructure that was halted when it was challenged in court.

“The university investigated the matter and found that certain staff members flawed the procurement process due to the non-disclosure of material facts. The officials implicated in the irregular procurement process were subjected to the university's disciplinary process and have since left the institution.”

Another allegation was related to the degrees-for-sale scam where examination marks changed and admission requirements tampered with to allow students who did not meet the requirements to be admitted.

Pandor said the university reported that it acted decisively and suspended two employees identified in the degrees-for-sale scam.

“The matter was also dealt with in the court and both accused were found guilty on 62 counts of fraud. The marks of individuals identified were removed and students were allowed to re-register,” she said.

Pandor stated her department received a number of complaints alleging financial irregularities, including R19million expenditure on houses and plots at an up-market estate to house the university executives.

“The minister wrote to the university council requesting clarity on the alleged irregularities. The council responded that the purchase was approved in 2015 as part of the university's retention strategy.”

Pandor added that there were also allegations about the appointment of a service provider to provide computer training, but an external audit report said the funds were spent in accordance with the university's policies.

On the allegation of illegal transfer of R11.5m from the University of Zululand coffers into a private account in 2013, Pandor said a forensic audit was undertaken by the university.

“The university has indicated that it had dealt with the matter. The department has not seen the forensic report,” she added.