640 SA public officials allegedly have fake degrees

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says that as many as 640 public sector officials have misrepresented their qualifications, and should be discharged without delay.

Senior officials exposed this information at this week’s Portfolio Committee of Public Service and Administration.

The Department did however refuse to reveal the names and positions of the individuals who were found to have lied about their qualifications, the DA said.

An increasing number of civil servants are lying about their qualifications, the communications department said on Wednesday (4 March).

“The incidents of misrepresentation, which appear to be on the rise, will not be tolerated as they impact negatively on the reputation of the country, its institutions and the credibility of the National Qualifications Framework,” acting director general Donald Liphoko said.

All government departments, their entities and agencies needed to implement public service regulations to deal with the problem decisively, he said. Forging qualifications was illegal, he warned.

“We would like to caution people who are embellishing their CVs with fraudulent academic qualifications that the government is committed to rooting out such behaviour.”

There have been a number of scandals recently over public officials’ misrepresenting their academic qualifications.

These include senior member of the African National Congress and former MP Pallo Jordan, former SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala, and South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, Mohau Pheko.

Pheko claimed she received her PhD from the American La Salle University in 2000. However, the university closed in 1996 when it emerged it was selling degrees and other academic qualifications via the internet.

Pheko told the SABC the university was promoted as legitimate and that she had registered at it, but it closed before she could be awarded her doctorate.

In December, Tshabalala resigned after she was unable to provide proof of her qualifications following an inquiry by a parliamentary committee.

Jordan resigned from Parliament and the ANC’s national executive committee last year after revelations that he had lied about having a PhD.

Liphoko urged South Africans to be aware of unscrupulous higher education institutions that were not registered with the department of higher education, nor accredited by official quality assurance bodies.

Former KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Vincent Mdunge was expected to appear in the Durban Regional Court on Wednesday for a sentencing date after the court found him guilty of using a fraudulent matric certificate when he joined the police in 1987.

The DA said it will be submitting parliamentary questions to ascertain who these public servants are and what positions they currently hold in the Department to determine the full extent of the fraud and if any senior officials are themselves holders of these fake degrees.

“This raises serious questions about the verification systems that are used upon employment of our civil servants,” it said.

“The South African taxpayer already forks out in excess of R400 billion every year for a bloated and ineffective public service. Getting rid of the fraudsters should be the first step in cutting this public wage bill and restoring integrity to the civil service,” the DA said.

Reporting with Sapa.

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