Higher education minister welcomes UKZN ‘cash for places’ investigation

05 March 2021 - 12:16 By nivashni nair
UKZN says it has spent R73m on Operation Clever, set up to investigate a cash for placement scam.
UKZN says it has spent R73m on Operation Clever, set up to investigate a cash for placement scam.
Image: Sunday Times

Minister of higher education, science and innovation Dr Blade Nzimande has welcomed the four-year investigation into allegations of “places for sale” at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) medical school and other corrupt activities.

In a parliamentary reply to a question asked by the IFP on Nzimande’s position relating to the scandal, his department said it was understood the university had, pursuant to the investigations, suspended 21 employees, leading to resignations, disciplinary inquiries and dismissals.

“Furthermore, 10 employees have been implicated. The minister remains steadfast to fight all forms of corruption and maladministration in our universities and the rest of the post-school education and training system. He therefore supports the actions of the university and council to ensure all perpetrators face the full might of the law,” the written response said.

Nzimande will request a detailed report from the UKZN council on the steps and actions taken to address the findings of the investigation report, including appropriate criminal proceedings against those found guilty of serious misconduct and corruption, and to prevent the recurrence of the abuse of the institution’s admissions policy and processes into any programme of the university.

“This should be completed within the next three months,” the department said.

Last month UKZN said the forensic investigation’s terms of reference were to probe:

  • fraudulent and/or irregular admissions of students;
  • the sale of exam papers;
  • tampering with academic records;
  • the provision of degree-complete certificates for students who had not completed their degrees;
  • changing of marks on the system; and
  • irregular allocation of student accommodation.

Criminal charges against some people were laid as far back as 2017 and were still under investigation by a state-appointed team of detectives and prosecutors.