NWU given ultimatum on R10m fraud audit report

20 December 2015 - 16:02 By Jeanette Chabalala
University of the North West Potchefstroom campus. File photo.
University of the North West Potchefstroom campus. File photo.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

A non-profit organisation has given North West University 48 hours to publish an audit into allegations of fraud involving R10m.

"The HETN  [Higher Education Transformation Network] allows your office no less than 48 hours to hand over or publish the Gobodo forensic report in the public domain – failing which, we will promptly do so on your behalf," said the organisation's Reginald Legoabe in a letter sent to the university’s vice-chancellor Dan Kgwadi on Sunday.

"Take note that we further intend approaching the court for further legal relief into the matter," he said.

But NWU director of corporate communications, Louis Jacobs, told News24 the report would not be released.

"As was previously indicated, the report will not be made public by the university. The matter is still being handled by the university Council, and since the Council meeting on 19 June 2015, the university has been negotiating repayment of the donation with the trustees.

"Both the NWU and the trustees are at advanced stage of the settlement negotiations, which are protected by confidentiality and legal privilege clauses," Jacobs said in an email.

Last year, HETN laid criminal charges of fraud against former NWU vice-chancellor Theuns Eloff, former NWU chief financial officer Professor Johan Rost and Bartholomeus Jooste, in connection with a donation of R10m to a trust that was allegedly done without permission from the university's council.

On Sunday, Legoabe said that the ultimatum for releasing the final report into the matter was imposed following "repeated requests" for a copy of the report, which the university had turned down "on the grounds of alleged confidentiality, prejudice to involved parties and agreement with forensic auditors".

HETN countered by citing the nature of a university as a publically funded institution as well as the constitutional right to "transparency as a pillar stone of governance".

It also indicated that the report must be considered a "public record" since, already in June, the university's council had apparently tabled and considered it.

The letter indicated that in the same month, the NWU council passed a resolution "exonerating" Eloff from the charges.

Legoabe said that the HETN wanted the report published because of "the need for public accountability, justice and the proliferation of the truth".

Source: News24