Heads to roll at Zululand: Nzimande
Pretoria - Action has been initiated against those implicated in procedural irregularities at the University of Zululand, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Monday.
There would be "no mercy" for those implicated in a forensic audit report, Nzimande told reporters in Pretoria.
"Criminal cases will be opened with our law enforcement agencies and we call on our courts to impose maximum sentences where cases are proven."
He was speaking after receiving the report from the university's administrator Chris de Beer, who is vice chancellor of the University of Pretoria.
Nzimande said the team had reported "serious and repeated transgressions of procedure in aspects including irregular admission of students who do not meet the minimum criteria".
"It has emerged that some students admitted by the university were irregularly registered and paid a "facilitation fee"' that ranged from R1 500 to R3 900 per student," he said.
The issuing and auditing of blank degrees and diploma certificates was also flawed.
This led to a number of employees having large numbers of blank certificates which might have been used to make fraudulent ones, said Nzimande.
Repeated infringements were also found in procurement procedures which led to preferential treatment and self-enrichment by some members of the university's council and staff.
"There were many procurement irregularities in which suppliers owned or co-owned by university employees were providing services to the university without declaring their interests," said Nzimande.
He said staff at the campus did not achieve their performance outcomes, which might have had an impact on the learning experience of students.
"A number of applications for exemption certificates on behalf of students submitted to Higher Education SA were eventually cancelled because the required further information was not provided timeously by the university," said Nzimande.
"We really do not take kindly to some of the things that are alleged to have happened at this university. We will be acting very firmly as part of restoring dignity to our institutions of higher learning." he said.
De Beer was appointed as administrator in April 2011 after recommendations by an independent assessor.
Thirteen staff members were among 15 people implicated so far.
"The irregularities lie in the procedure followed [during procurement] and in some instances there are questions around the value for money that we got," said De Beer.
"We discovered repeated non-compliance to university policies particularly by certain individuals and it is exactly those that were enriching themselves by requesting a service and supplying the service."
Director general Gwebinkundla Qonde said there had been notable improvements at the University of Zululand, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and the Walter Sisulu University (WSU).
"The administrators appointed to these institutions have been hard at work," he said.
"We are not going to leave any stone unturned regarding the work we are doing in these institutions."