Ellen Tshabalala: It’s a conspiracy

Ellen Tshabalala says people have “an agenda” against her – though she’s not sure what it is, nor who is out to get her.

Tshabalala was found guilty by a parliamentary inquiry of lying about qualifications she said she had obtained from the University of South Africa.

The inquiry followed a City Press exposé in July which, through an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, found that Tshabalala did not have the qualifications from Unisa she claimed on her CV.

President Jacob Zuma must now deal with the committee’s recommendation to sack her as chair of the SABC board. She is also under investigation by Transnet, whose board she sits on.

“I don’t know what agenda there is but I am crying foul for what the portfolio committee has done,” she said at a briefing at the SABC’s Auckland Park, Joburg offices today.

On Wednesday, Jan van Wyk, from Unisa’s legal services department, told the portfolio committee that even though Tshabalala had registered for her BCom degree in both 1988 and 1996, she failed to obtain the qualification.

Today she hit back, saying it was Van Wyk who leaked information about her qualifications to the media.

“Van Wyk just draws his info from a computer system yet he does not even have experience in IT. This is untested hearsay evidence to find me guilty. They’ve never allowed me to access the records that they said they had until I heard from what was produced in the portfolio committee,” Tshabalala said.

“How I discovered that my academic results from Unisa were not a true reflection of what I have done was when I was going to be appointed to the board of BMW a few years ago,” she said.

“I went to Unisa to rectify this but instead the vice-chancellor has a statement online saying that they are having a myriad challenges when it came to qualifications. I was getting impatient so I hired lawyers to request these records,” she said.

She refused to produce pictures from her graduation nor any evidence that supported her version of events. She told journalists she would produce all of this in court.

“Upon media trail you are guilty. [Journalists] have already formed the opinion that I was not qualified.”

Tshabalala told Parliament in her application to the SABC board that her academic records had been stolen in a burglary at her home on July 23 last year.

She has also suggested that her records were altered on Unisa’s system, and has accused City Press – and specifically editor Ferial Haffajee – of not giving her a chance to respond to the allegations before publishing its July 13 story.

City Press responds:

Ellen Tshabalala has claimed that she was overseas when we exposed the lie about her qualifications, and didn’t have a chance to comment. Here’s how we got the information, and sought comment.

» We submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to Unisa seeking details about Ms Tshabalala’s alleged qualifications.

» We lost, appealed, and Unisa then provided us with information that proved Ms Tshabalala had lied about her qualifications both to Parliament about the SABC and to Transnet.

» City Press approached SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago five days before the story was published on July 13 2014 after first trying to contact Ms Tshabalala directly. He declined to comment because Tshabalala was appointed by the president, and later said he had forwarded our questions to her and she had undertaken to deal with the matter personally.

» Further questions sent to her on the Friday went unanswered.

At no point did Ms Tshabalala say she was overseas and wasn’t in a position to respond.

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