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Police have reason to believe as many as 4 000 students have bought degrees from the University of Zululand since 1996. A probe will be launched into the scam.

The Sunday Times has reported that more than 4 000 University of Zululand students may have paid for fake degrees over a period of 20 years. At a senate meeting held at the university on Monday, a proposal was put on the table to investigate all postgraduate degrees in law, business management, public administration and education. Past and present students have taken to social media, threatening to expose those who have allegedly bought fake degrees on the university’s two campuses in KwaDlangezwa and Richards Bay. Police were informed that the latest scam involves 400 to 500 fake degrees, most of which were teaching qualifications. Investigating officer Captain Louis Helberg says that sources on the campus have claimed that the degree scam has been going on since 1996 – similar to the degrees-for-sale scandal that took place at the university in 2008. “I am investigating cases of fraud, corruption, defeating [the] ends of justice and extortion,” Helberg said. The scam has already seen two university employees – an internal investigating officer and an examination official – suspended last month, following their connection to the scam. Helberg has told the Sunday Timesthat he’s “looking into more than two people”. Reports are rife that the investigation was brought to light after a University of Zululand graduate who applied for a position could not speak any English during an interview conducted by staff members. Five staff members were suspended in 1997 after accepting money to alter student records. The paper reports that R260 000 was made from selling 15 fake degrees. In 2007, another scam was revealed when about 80 students without matric certificates were deregistered. The students allegedly bribed university officials in order to get their hands on the university’s entrance exams. According to Deputy Vice Chancellor Neil Garrod, a few of the officials alleged to have bought degrees “did not graduate from our university”. He added, “Any false document they may have would have been generated outside the university system. “It is therefore denied that it’s easy to buy a degree from the University of Zululand. The university cannot control fake documents generated outside its system.” Former student tutor Lucky Khanyile told the Sunday Times about how he tampered with the results of more than 1 000 students who had failed in 2007 and 2008, charging them between R500 and R5 000 per module. Khanyile and another student tutor, Bongekile Manqele, were convicted of fraud in February 2014 and sentenced to a five-year suspended jail sentence, a fine, 16 hours’ community service and six months under house arrest. “It was wrong what we did, even though we were helping struggling students pass,” Khanyile told the paper. “Now I am unemployed with a criminal record for my role while those I helped have posh jobs.” Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was asked to launch an official probe into the scandal. Source: Sunday Times and Destiny

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