Thabi Leoka quits Amplats board after doctorate scandal

22 January 2024 - 17:35
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Thabi Leoka
Thabi Leoka
Image: Russel Roberts

Thabi Leoka has resigned as a board member of Anglo American Platinum to attend to her health and allegations of fake qualifications, the company said on Monday.

“On her request, Thabi Leoka has resigned from her position as a nonexecutive director of the company and consequently the board committees she serves on, with immediate effect, in order to attend to her health and the questions she has been facing in relation to her academic qualifications,” the company said in a statement, without owning up to its own processes that did not pick up anomalies on her CV.

Netcare admitted last week that it had turned a blind eye to a verification report it commissioned before appointing Leoka as a nonexecutive director in 2021, which indicated her highest qualification was a master’s degree.

This astonishing admission was made by the company secretary of one of the country’s biggest private healthcare groups in response to Business Day’s questions on Thursday.

“As is standard practice within Netcare, a background check was conducted. A report by an external specialist integrity assessment firm commissioned by Netcare and received in November 2021 listed Ms Leoka’s highest qualification as an MA and MSc,” said Charles Vikisi, general counsel and group secretary of Netcare.

“In hindsight, we recognise that we should have proactively inquired why the PhD qualification, as stated on her curriculum vitae, was not reflected in the report. Regrettably, this diligence was not exercised,” Vikisi said.

“Given the recent disclosures around the integrity of Ms Leoka’s academic qualifications, it is apparent that Netcare could have and should have done more to verify the accuracy of her CV, particularly as it pertained to her PhD.”

The scandal has exposed the flaws and weaknesses in the verification processes of some of SA’s biggest companies, including Remgro, MTN SA, and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which count or had counted Leoka as a board member with a PhD qualification.

The scandal has damaged the reputation and trust of the companies involved, as well as the image of corporate SA, which is still reeling from the demise of Steinhoff, which destroyed billions of rand in shareholder equity, and the collapse of Tongaat Hulett into the arms of business rescue practitioners.


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