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The Rise of Fraudulent Qualifications

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The Rise of Fraudulent Qualifications

11th May 2017


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The rising number of public figures found holding fraudulent qualification certificates has become a growing concern for employers and recruitment companies. In 2015, The Gauteng Health Department found ten employees that had produced fake matric certificates. Out of the ten employees, eight where dismissed.

Other African countries have experienced similar issues, thus showing that this is not only a South African phenomenon.  Recently, President John Magufuli of Tanzania, fired 10 000 civil servants who were guilty of producing fake qualification certificates. He emphasised that these individuals were hired based on the qualifications that they allegedly had, as is normally the case. The president presented the employees with an ultimatum of either being fired or facing prosecution, which can result in each individual receiving a jail sentence of up to 7 years.


Importance of qualification in the recruitment process
One of the requirements, if not the most important one, that employers and recruitment companies look for in the recruitment process is the qualifications of the prospective employee. Prospective employees’ qualifications determine whether they at least hold the minimal qualification/s for the position applied for, before any other factors are taken into consideration. Making this decision based on fraudulent certificates, makes the work of an employer and recruiter almost impossible and will result in the employee being appointed in a position wherein he or she is not capable of doing the required job.

Draft National Policy on the Misrepresentation of Qualification
The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), has developed the Draft National Policy on the Misrepresentation of Qualification for the purpose of preventing the use of fraudulent qualifications. As of 6 January 2017, this policy was open for public comment for 30 days.


“The purpose of this Policy is to:
(i)  Define what is meant by misrepresented qualifications;
(ii)  Provide a framework for dealing with individuals and providers who misrepresent qualifications; and
(iii)  Define the roles and responsibilities of the different role-players.”

Individuals that are found to have produced false qualifications would be put on a registry. The idea behind this is to ‘name and shame’ the individuals concerned and prevent them from using these fraudulent qualifications with any other entity. The advantages of having such a policy is that it outlines exactly when there is misrepresentation of qualifications both for South African and foreign qualifications. Furthermore, the policy defines when misrepresentation of qualifications is said to have happen.

“A qualifications/part-qualification has been misrepresented if:
(i) It does not meet the criteria to be an authentic qualification;
(ii)  The certificate of award was not issued by the provider;
(iii)  An individual alters the certificate of award or the SAQA Certification of   
       Evaluation for a qualification; and
(iv) An individual offers for any reason, a qualification that was obtained from
      a degree mill.”

There are however, negative attributes that are not outlined in this draft. This policy creates a greater burden on recruiters or employers that find such false qualifications and forces them to expose the culprits by submitting them to the registry. For a company with a large number of employees, adding this step to the recruitment process, prolongs the whole process.

However, the spinoff is that employers will have newly secured confidence in the qualifications of newly recruited employees.

The abovementioned policy has been created in order to deter prospective employees from producing fraudulent certificates. At SchoemanLaw we are able to assist you seamlessly with any labour disputes your company may experience.

Written by Lebohang Mgolodela, Professional Assistant, Attorney, Schoeman Law


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