The articles in the local press abound with employees being found with fraudulent qualifications. One of the latest cases was where a former employee of Umgeni Water was ordered to pay back millions he earned after he lied about his qualification. He joined the graduate programme back in 2008 and at the time no qualifications were verified but upon becoming a permanent employee he had to produce copies of his qualifications which he was unable to do. 

One has to wonder how a graduate programme can be put together for people who are not graduates and only employees are obliged to provide legal documentation.

In 2019 the laws in South Africa changed and candidates who present fraudulent qualifications are automatically reported to the authorities and are listed with SAFPS and a criminal case is opened against them. They face a 5-year jail term.

With the high unemployment rates in South Africa, and sadly the low conviction rates, many are not threatened by such laws and continue to provide fraudulent documentation. The law goes beyond fraudulent documentation being presented in a job application and extends to social media where someone claiming to have a degree on a social media platform is incorrect, they can still be charged. The South African Qualifications Authority will be obliged to investigate such a claim, and hand it over to prosecutors if it is in breach of the law.

Sadly, qualification fraud is not always the fault of the candidates because some of them are victims rather than perpetrators. Some people might have inadvertently gone to an institution that is an illegal institution, commonly referred to as a bogus institution. They have no idea they were achieving a qualification without formal standing. The operators of such fake institutions also face jail terms of up to five years under the law for offences, including claiming to be registered education institutions either in SA or in foreign jurisdictions.

Sadly, no educational qualification should be taken at face value. They all need to be verified.

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