Unisa's acting finance head wants Hawks to investigate fraud allegations

Dr Reshma Mathura. Picture: Unisa website

Dr Reshma Mathura. Picture: Unisa website

Published Apr 28, 2024


UNISA’s suspended acting head of finance, Dr Reshma Mathura, has approached the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to investigate an alleged smear campaign against her.

Mathura filed a criminal complaint with the Hawks to probe a ‘conspiracy to falsely implicate her in criminality’.

Her legal team from Afriforum’s private prosecution unit, claimed that four cash deposits of R330 each, had allegedly been made by students on the NSFAS student allowance list.

The payments - they claim - were fraudulent and made ‘to slander her and remove her from her position.’

At a press conference on April 17, Prof Romagoai Magano, acting vice principal for institutional development at Unisa, said they viewed this matter seriously.

“The relevant departments within the university have been tasked to look into the allegations and to follow due processes.

“Once these departments have concluded their work and advised the university of its conclusions, management will take a decision on the appropriate steps to be taken,” he said.

Magano added that all relevant stakeholders would be informed accordingly.

Barry Bateman, spokesperson for the Afriforum’s prosecution unit, said Mathura was left with no alternative but to contact the Hawks, following the “Unisa management’s complete disregard of her complaint about the unsolicited payments made to her private bank account”.

“We had addressed a letter to Dr Daniel Mosia, chairperson of Unisa’s council, asking for his intervention to ensure Mathura’s complaint is investigated internally.

“The appeal to Mosia followed with two letters addressed to Prof Puleng LenkaBula, vice-chancellor of Unisa, that have gone unanswered, save for a response seeking clarity on our status as Mathura’s legal representatives.”

Bateman added that with each day that passed without a response from the university, it reinforced their perception that Mathura was the target of an organised scheme to falsely incriminate her in wrongdoing.

“It seems like management is content with an air of suspicion surrounding her,” he said.

“At the press conference, Prof Romagoai Magano referred to the allegations against Mathura but made no mention of her proactive steps to inform her employer of what had happened and her efforts to have it investigated.”

On April 2, Mathura received notification of four unsolicited deposits of R330 each made to her private bank account.

Within hours, Bateman said she had spoken to her bank and obtained the names of four people identified as having made the deposits.

“A cursory investigation revealed the names were listed as students awaiting NSFAS allowances. Mathura is responsible for authorising the disbursement of those funds.

“Coincidentally, an anonymous whistleblower report was sent to Unisa accusing her of accepting bribes from students. Four depositor payment notifications were attached,” he said.