Crackdown on fraudsters hailed

graduation-sihloette_900THE clampdown on fake academic qualifications by the government was long overdue and would go a long way towards cleaning up South Africa’s thriving fraudulent qualifications racket‚ the chief executive of South Africa’s oldest background screening company said yesterday.

EMPS chief executive Kirsten Halcrow said the problem of fake qualifications was so pervasive that the government had little choice but to intervene.

She said 7.62% of all qualifications checked by her company so far this year turned out to be problematic.

“Hardly a day goes by without yet another high-ranking government official being exposed for having fake qualifications. Until now‚ the state has largely turned a blind eye.”

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament last week that people who misrepresented their academic qualifications to get jobs in the public and private sector should be named‚ shamed and jailed.

In reply to a question from the UDM’s Lennox Gaehler on the propensity of South Africans to fake their qualifications‚ Ramaphosa said the government intended to crack down on fakers and frauds.

He said Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande was working on a proposal‚ which was expected to be tabled before cabinet for approval‚ to address the scourge.

“He has also approached the National Qualifications Authority to begin the process of preparing a list of those people who fraudulently claim that they have qualifications, so they can be named shamed,” he said.

“This time round . . . they will be subject to being charged‚ arrested and jailed.”

Ramaphosa said recent instances of prominent South Africans having lied about their qualifications had dented the country’s image abroad.

“Such incidents do great damage to the credibility of our country’s education and training system,” he said.

Halcrow said a qualifications fraudster list for the private sector already existed at the Southern Africa Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS).

“All the major background screening companies list fraudsters with the SAFPS‚ where members have access to check whether a job applicant has been listed,” she said.

The SAFPS fraud database

and houses more than 92 000 records‚ of which about 5 300 relate to fraud perpetrated by job seekers and employees.

Halcrow said despite many media exposés‚ degree mills continued to ply their trade.

“For less than R1 000 it is possible to order virtually any degree‚ from first degrees to PhD qualifications from dozens of fake degree vendors around the world.”

She said the fact that former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa engineer Daniel Mtimkulu had been charged with fraud and uttering relating to his alleged fake qualifications‚ and the jailing of former police spokesman Vincent Mdunge for five years for claiming he had a matric certificate, had opened the floodgates for employers to take legal action against fraudsters.

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