Johannesburg - Eleven bogus colleges have been shut down in Johannesburg since Monday in a bid to stop opportunistic business owners from preying on those desperate for an education.
"These bogus colleges are robbing young people, they are not legal and at the end of the day, young people end up with fake qualifications," Higher Education Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said.
Most of the students at these colleges came from poor backgrounds and were most often than not taking out loans to pay for fees.
The department began this year's operation in Braamfontein, central Johannesburg, on Monday. It would continue in Braamfontein until Friday before moving to other areas.
The countrywide operation was investigated these colleges in cities including Pretoria, Durban, Polokwane, and East London.
Last year, the department opened 52 criminal cases against the people who owned or ran these colleges.
Nkwanyana said in all the cases they had dealt with so far, the people running the colleges were foreigners. Once arrested, they were charged with fraud and violating government regulations.
One had already been sentenced to six years' jail. The rest of the cases were in court and the department hoped to secure convictions this year.
Nkwanyana said the department would escalate its operation at the start of the academic year, as this was then most higher learning institutions enrolled students.
"They are mushrooming everywhere and this is a critical time, it's opening of the year and they enrol a lot of students. They are serious cancers."