Here’s how SABC’s Tshabalala can end Parliament’s probe

2014-10-19 06:00

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SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala could have cleared up the confusion over her qualifications had she knocked on the right doors.

Tshabalala has stalled an official inquiry into her qualifications for three months.

But it takes just four hours to confirm a Unisa degree, which is what she says she holds.

Tshabalala claimed in her CV, submitted to Parliament during the SABC board appointment process, that she holds a BCom and a postgraduate labour relations diploma from Unisa.

However, in July City Press established that she holds no Unisa qualification.

Parliament asked her to produce the degree certificates. She missed the first deadline, August 12, and the second, August 31.

During the SABC board appointment process in July last year, Tshabalala claimed she could not produce copies of her degree certificates because they had been lost during a house burglary in 2001 or 2002.

Yet it takes only four hours to query a person’s ID number against the National Qualifications Register, a commercial database that contains graduate information for all South Africa’s major universities, as well as a few private ones.

Had she approached Unisa directly, she would have had a response within a week, or slightly longer, depending on the time in the academic year.

Instead, she has written an angry letter to the communications portfolio committee chair over the formal inquiry launched by Parliament, appointed a legal adviser to interrogate Unisa’s student records and retained a well-known advocate, Norman Arendse, to represent her in Parliament’s inquiry.

Ina van der Merwe, CEO of background screening agency Managed Integrity Evaluation, said the National Qualifications Register contains all graduate records of the 30 major South African tertiary institutions.

It is even possible to confirm a qualification from an institution that was merged into a new institution from this database. So anyone who studied at a major local university in the past 20 years would have no problem obtaining official verification of their qualification, even if they had lost the original degree certificate.

Unisa’s manager of student disciplinary matters, Gherhardt Waldeck, said the university would issue a statement in lieu of a diploma certificate “on receipt of a sworn affidavit wherein it is declared under oath what had happened to the original certificate”.

“The above affidavit must be accompanied by a certified copy of the student’s ID document and an appropriate covering letter, the latter confirming the student’s latest address and contact details,” he said.

Waldeck said it usually took a week to verify a Unisa qualification, although it could take longer during periods when the university held graduation ceremonies.

Tshabalala told City Press she was “dealing with legal people in the institution [Unisa]” and declined to comment further.

Three other universities approached by City Press – Wits, Stellenbosch and KwaZulu-Natal – all had mechanisms in place to reissue lost degree certificates, or provided an alternative official confirmation to their alumnae.

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