The punishment for lying about your matric in South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act into law, making it a criminal offence for individuals to misrepresent their qualifications in South Africa.

Tracy Robbins, a senior associate at Baker Mckenzie, says that such a misrepresentation is punishable by a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.

“The Qualifications Act also creates a framework within which registers will be created for professional designations, misrepresentations and fraudulent qualifications by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA),” she said.

“This means that in addition to criminal sanctions, those convicted under the Qualifications Act will also be ‘named and shamed’,” she said.

Robbins said that the Qualifications Act also criminalises the wilful misrepresentation or publication of qualifications.

Practically, this means that offences under the Qualifications Act are not only limited to misrepresentations on CVs for employment seeking purposes but also include any wilful misrepresentations that may occur on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, she said.

Lying on your CV 

Embellished resumes’ are common in South Africa as applicants look to stand out in the job market, says Rudi Kruger, general manager at LexisNexis Data Services.

“Candidates want to have a standout CV that grabs the attention of potential employers and many are willing to add embellishments, misrepresent facts or even blatantly lie to get to the top of the pile.

“Adding to it is the stressful economic environment, which could even compel generally honest individuals to exaggerate in their applications in a bid to appear more employable,” said Kruger.

He said that the most serious CV embellishments include:

  • Fake qualifications;
  • Fake identities;
  • Misrepresented criminal records;
  • Fraudulent work permits;
  • Inflated job titles;
  • Fabricated experience;
  • Incorrect reasons for leaving previous jobs.

Read: This South African lied on his CV all the way to the top – here’s what happened

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The punishment for lying about your matric in South Africa