A Wits University “student” and administrator were respectively granted R10 000 bail and remanded in custody following their first court appearance at the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court on Thursday.
On Tuesday the duo was arrested on charges of fraud and corruption for allegedly registering students who did not meet the institution’s requirements and demanding a large sum of money as payment. Following a brief appearance at the court, a decision was taken by the judge to remand the administrator (31) in custody due to a previous conviction of driving under the influence. His co-accused (19) was released on bail.
According to spokesperson for the Hawks in Gauteng, captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu, the arrest came after an investigation was carried out following an anonymous tip received by her unit about the illegal registering of unqualified applicants at the university.
“We received intelligence information on Monday about suspected corruption at the university’s registration point. We began investigations immediately and we were led to the revelation that money was being solicited from applicants who did not meet the requirements for first-year acceptance into the institution, in exchange for a space at Wits,” she said.
Mulamu explained that the two suspects would manipulate the percentage aggregate scores of applicants on the Wits system to make it seem as if they qualified while the original results evidently showed the opposite. The pair would then send applicants forged acceptance letters, which bore the university’s letterhead, to them.
Mulamu told City Press that the two were apprehended after an entrapment operation was put in place by the Hawks on Tuesday.
“We sent in an individual under the pretence of willing to pay a bribe in order to qualify for a space at the institution after not meeting the entry requirements. The individual approached the duo and a meeting was set up at a petrol station in Parktown. That is where the “student” was apprehended. He led us to the administrator who was subsequently arrested at the university campus in Braamfontein.
According to communications officer for the university, Buhle Zuma, ongoing investigations by the university have yet to reveal any previous illegal activity of this nature.
“At this stage, internal investigations indicate that registrations in previous years are not affected,” she said.
The university could not indicate the number of students who had been involved but Zuma said that operations at the institution had not been affected.
With investigations still under way, the nature of the relationship between the two hasn’t yet been established and the university still has not determine whether or not the 19-year-old suspect was a registered student at the institution.
The two will appear in front of a judge on Monday after their case was postponed for further investigation.