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Unisa slams article over toilet budget as ‘misleading’

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Published Oct 23, 2023


Unisa says it is appalled by a “misleading” City Press headline: ‘Unisa blows R20m on toilets’, which appeared in Sunday’s edition of the paper.

In a statement on Monday, the university said the headline created an impression that the university had spent the money frivolously when in fact the alleged amount included structural work.

According to Unisa, the article seeks to “engender a misleading agenda”.

“The university is appalled at the posture of the article’s headline, which seeks to engender a narrative that the university spent large amounts of money to build mere toilets, when in fact the project in question entailed the conducting of major structural work on the ablution facilities at three of its campuses to ensure that they adhere to health standards and regulations,” Unisa said.

The university, which is embroiled in a legal battle with Minister of Higher Education, Training and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande, over maladministration problems following the independent assessor report, said the City Press article was based on a unsigned leaked report.

“Sadly, the reporter based his article on a leaked report that he ascribes to the Unisa Internal Audit Directorate, when in fact there is no confirmation from the university that this is indeed a Unisa report. The report in his possession, a copy of which was attached to his media enquiry, is not even signed.

“It is a known fact that reports of the university have to be signed by officials who have been mandated and authorised to do so. In the absence of such, any reporting or sharing of information from an unverifiable source is just spurious,” it said.

Unisa said the article was based on a report concluded over three years ago and under a previous administration.

“It is even difficult to fathom why a report of an alleged investigation commissioned and concluded three years ago, and under the previous administration, is becoming news now, almost three years after the fact.

“To make matters worse, the reporter continued to ascribe the report in his possession to Unisa, in spite of the university advising him that it is neither its policy nor practice to confirm the veracity of reports that have not officially been shared or released by itself,“ Unisa said.

On the matter of Matsiababa Motebele, the current Vice-Principal: Operations and Facilities, Unisa said Motebele left Unisa in 2019 and his resignation was above board and duly accepted by the university, and when he returned to Unisa, he was accepted as there were no pending issues or investigations against him.

“The insinuation in the article that he left the university in 2019 to escape an investigation into the project to upgrade the ablution facilities is incorrect, slanderous and a desperate attempt to label him as corrupt.

“For the record, the procurement and finance policies and procedures at Unisa have the necessary checks and balances to ensure that all procurement is above board ... It is simply impossible for any one individual to appoint a service provider and/or facilitate their payment single-handedly,” Unisa said.