Pretoria - Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande has expressed his concerns about the bogus institutions awarding honorary doctorates to unsuspecting individuals, especially celebrities.
Nzimande urged the public to always be wary and not accept such qualifications.
Last week, social media was abuzz when it was revealed that entrepreneur and reality TV star Shauwn Mkhize, known as MaMkhize, was officially a doctor after being honoured with an honorary doctorate in philosophy for her “good deeds” by the Good Shepherd College of Religion, Culture and Training.
Mkhize went as far as asking to be addressed as Dr Mkhize and subsequently changed her Instagram name to Dr Shauwn Mkhize.
However, it soon emerged the institution which honoured the Royal AM football club president did not even have a website or education domain and no authority to issue a PhD doctorate in philosophy.
Nzimande’s spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, said there was an ongoing investigation.
“Kindly note that the Good Shepherd College of Religion and Training is not registered with the department as a private higher education institution.”
According to the Times of Swaziland, the same college reportedly honoured Timothy Myeni of Ncandweni Christ Ambassadors with a doctorate for his contribution to the gospel industry. Myeni was among 23 people decorated during the event last month, which included his brother and mother, who were conferred with Master’s degrees.
Nzimande advised the public to visit the registers of private higher institutions and private colleges, which are on the department website.
“I have already requested the Council of Higher Education to investigate and advise on appropriate action on all the reported cases of the awarding of these bogus honorary degrees,” Nzimande said.
A number of these bogus colleges are not registered with the department as public or private higher education institutions to provide higher education programmes, as required by the law.
The department has the statutory responsibility of regulating the activities of private higher education institutions. According to the department, no person other than a public higher education institution or an organ of the state may provide higher education unless registered or conditionally registered with the department as a private higher education institution.
It is a criminal offence for an institution to provide higher education without registration. As the new academic year approaches, Nzimande reiterated a need for care.