UKZN ‘concern’ over effect of scandal on med school’s reputation

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has been working with the Hawks to identify students who had bought their way into its medical school.

The Times reports that this comes after the recent arrests of three people who headed a syndicate selling admission to the university’s medical school.

“The university’s forensic services and the Hawks have been working tirelessly to identify accomplices and beneficiaries of these illegal acts. It is anticipated that further arrests will be made soon. Any persons found to have participated and/or benefited from this illegal practice will face criminal prosecution‚” vice-chancellor Albert van Jaarsveld was quoted in the report as saying. He said UKZN was in constant contact with police. He asked for all university stakeholders “to remain calm and allow the process to unfold”. “Let’s allow the process to take its course

He said UKZN was in constant contact with police. He asked for all university stakeholders “to remain calm and allow the process to unfold”. “Let’s allow the process to take its course‚” he said.

According to the report, Van Jaarsveld said the university’s executive was concerned about the impact of the scandal on its reputation. “Additional checks and balances in our selection and admission processes led to detection of specific corrupt practices‚ which were then referred to the Hawks for further investigation‚ and we are continually improving our procedures and practice to reduce risks‚” he said.

The report says the university has opened an anonymous hotline for anyone to report corruption. “We are committed to rooting out all corruption at the university and require the assistance of the public to contact the university fraud hotline on the toll free number 0800 20 32 85. All reports will be treated anonymously and in the strictest of confidence‚” said van Jaarsveld.

 

Plans are meanwhile afoot to shut down the medical school if students do not receive answers from management regarding the scandal. A Sunday Tribune report says that student leaders met management last week to discuss the issue but said they left the meeting without any answers.

Following the arrests, the SRC said it was furious that it was denied access to the R1.4m KPMG forensic audit, despite several requests. SRC leader and fifth-year medical student Noxolo Bhengu said the university’s excuse was that it had given the report to the police and it was now part of the criminal probe. “We believe there are names in that report of top-level management who the university does not want us to see because they are trying to protect them. If R1.4m of taxpayers’ money was used for this report, why are they hiding it?”

According to the report, UKZN chair of council, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, whose term comes to an end next month, was asked why the council had not spoken out on the saga. He said the council had not held a formal meeting yet and the next meeting would take place on 19 June, when they expected a report to be tabled on the investigation. Until then, they would not comment.

But, the report says, a member of council who asked not to be named said he was shocked at the university’s handling of the matter. “Something as big as this requires a special sitting, yet they have not called for this. A ‘glorified’ and weak KPMG report was presented to council late last year and I believe the firm was paid to cover up the corruption and to protect white supremacy at the medical school.

“Council members know this matter was reported a long time ago, but no thorough investigations were conducted because certain interests were being protected.”

The report says when KPMG was asked how was it possible that its report found no corruption, despite being paid over a R1m to investigate, the firm’s investigator who conducted the forensic audit, Candice Padayachee, responded: “Please note that in terms of the firm’s policy, reports that we issue contain information which is confidential to our clients and we are not entitled to disclose or discuss such information.”

Meanwhile, student leaders alleged that the allegations of corruption regarding the sale of places were brought to the attention of the university back in 2011 but were “covered up”. Former vice-chancellor Professor Malegapuru William Makgoba, now the health ombudsman, said it was never reported to him when he was in his position. The report says he would not comment further on the matter as he said he was no longer part of the institution and did not know what was going on.

 

A meeting was held by the South African Minority Rights Equality Movement (Samrem) in Pietermaritzburg recently regarding the recent corruption scandal. According to a Sunday Tribune report, parents had the following to say: “While the actions of the arrested people are clearly grounded in bribery and corruption, one has to ask why so many parents resorted to this approach? It’s no rocket science that these ridiculous quotas opened opportunities for such corruption and that parents will do whatever they can for their children.

“One has to accept that we live in one of the most racist non-racial countries in the world with quota systems, BEE systems, and every other system to accommodate under-achievers, even dropping pass rates. In the case of the medical student situation, parents’ hands were forced into doing what is deemed ‘wrong’.”

The Times report
Sunday Tribune report
Sunday Tribune report (subscription needed)


Receive Medical Brief's free weekly e-newsletter



Related Posts

Thank you for subscribing to MedicalBrief


MedicalBrief is Africa’s premier medical news and research weekly newsletter. MedicalBrief is published every Thursday and delivered free of charge by email to over 33 000 health professionals.

Please consider completing the form below. The information you supply is optional and will only be used to compile a demographic profile of our subscribers. Your personal details will never be shared with a third party.


Thank you for taking the time to complete the form.