Background screening company, EMPS says that the highest cases of fraudulent CV’s is related to matric certificates, followed by trade certificates.
It said that 2015 is proving to be a record year for credentials cheats, with criminal record checks for prospective employees now topping 12%.
The announcement by rail agency Prasa that it had suspended chief engineer Daniel Mtimkulu over what it said was the fact that “he lacked the necessary qualifications” and that he would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing once again showed how widespread the problem of degree fraud was in South Africa, it said.
Claiming a Ph.D. degree from a German university that proved to be false as well as a claim that he had started his studies at Wits at the age of 17 which also turned out to be untrue, Mtimkulu’s fall from grace showed just how important it was for employers to do a thorough qualifications check before they employed staff.
Kirsten Halcrow, MD at EMPS, said 7.62% of all qualifications verified by her company so far this year turned out to be “problematic”.
This compared with a 6.8% average for last year.
In a statement, Prasa confirmed that a full-blown investigation was underway to check Mtimkulu’s qualifications. Mtimkulu has since been suspended.
Last week, Netwerk24 reported that Mtimkulu was not officially registered with the profession’s statutory body.
In 2006, the Engineering Council of South Africa (Ecsa) rejected Daniel Mtimkulu’s application to register with it, according to the report.
Prasa has faced questions over the purchase of new diesel locomotives from Spain, and over a R51 billion tender for the purchase of 600 trains for its fleet renewal programme.
The agency had reportedly ignored warnings from engineers that the 13 Afro 4000 locomotives, imported from Spain for R600 million, were too high for local railways and could damage overhead cables.
EMPS said it uncovered the highest level of international qualification fraud ever last year.
“By far the most fraud was committed with matric certificates while trade certificates came in second with fraud levels rising from 5% the previous year to close on 7% this year.”
Halcrow said 7.6% of tertiary qualifications submitted to her company for verification in the first half of 2015 were unverifiable.
She said so-called degree mills continued to pose a problem as many employers took their fake certificates at face value.
A degree mill is an unaccredited higher education institution that offers illegitimate academic degrees and diplomas for a fee.
“Technically they have made great strides in producing degrees and diplomas that look almost exactly like the real thing,” she said.
Halcrow said that a person with a fake qualification can ruin a company. “Apart from being unable to do the job they were hired for, they could also do severe damage to the reputation of a company.”
EMPS pointed to other recent notable instances of degree fraud including former SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala, who was discovered to have lied about having a BCom from Unisa.
The Former ambassador to Japan, Mohau Pheko was also found to have lied about her PhD, EMPS said.