TUT senate rescinds Makwarela’s BTech degree

The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) senate has adopted a report recommending the withdrawal of a degree it conferred on convocation president Dakalo Makwarela last year.

The TUT senate convened on Monday and adopted the report. According to a presentation to the senate contained in an audio recording Sunday World has heard, the university management charged that Makwarela fraudulently acquired a diploma, which then impacts on his BTech degree.

The presenter, registrar Dr Michael Mushaathoni, told the senate meeting that the university established that the last page on Makwarela’s diploma academic records in fact belonged to another student.

For these reasons, it was concluded that his diploma was wrongly conferred and thus the subsequent BTech degree he obtained is also affected.

“Senate has the power to withdraw a qualification if that qualification was awarded in error or fraudulently, and after the withdrawal of the qualification, the senate may demand the return of all certificates related to a qualification that may be withdrawn,” said Mushaathoni.

Mushaathoni said they received an inquiry on November 14 last year from a company that assists with verifying TUT qualifications.

“And that request was for a BTech qualification for student Dakalo Makwarela.

“We confirmed that the BTech was indeed awarded to the student in the year 2023, however, when we were checking the academic record of the student, we realised that there was no evidence that Mr Makwarela had completed the national diploma in management, which is a pre-requisite for admission to the BTech.”

Mushaathoni said they discovered that the last page of the academic record for Makwarela’s national diploma used to apply for the BTech was not his.

“And this page is a page where the missing modules were reflecting,” said Mushaathoni.

The senate was told that all the above meant that “ Makwarela was wrongly admitted for the BTech programme because the national diploma was never completed and was never issued, and the BTech was conferred on Mr Makwarela in error”.

As a result, the recommendation was to withdraw Makwarela’s diploma and BTech credentials.

It was further recommended that his admission to MTech and the modules he had completed also be rescinded.

According to TUT, Makwarela had multiple opportunities to clarify his position and refute the university’s dispute over his qualification since last year, but he failed to make a submission in this regard.

A senate member, Sithembiso Mbatha, challenged the submission, saying it was opportunistic to single out Makwarela in the whole saga.

He also expressed suspicion that the convocation’s political battles with university management and the council could potentially target Makwarela.

According to Mbatha, there was a need for a thorough investigation to identify other parties involved in Makwarela’s erroneous qualification conferment.

He said that Makwarela did not register himself for the BTech, and anyone who did so without a verified diploma for the student must also face consequences.

“We all know that students do not admit themselves to the institution. For the integrity of the institution, we cannot rush to withdraw the qualification without looking at the need for a proper investigation as to who admitted the student,” said Mbatha, a symphathiser with Makwarela.

“I am also worried that in the same year in question (of the diploma conferred on Makwarela), which is 2012, the current registrar was acting registrar, so I am worried whether there might be a reaction.

“I also want to check if this was an error or fraud, and if it was fraud, who else was involved?”

The registrar insisted that the whole saga was a “fraudulent activity” because of the page attached to the records, which belonged to another student.

Mbatha objected to the senate’s decision to withdraw Makwarela’s BTech degree.

“I want to be on record in this meeting that I have a dissenting view on the adoption of this on the basis that the registrar is conflicted on these issues and the report on its own is clumsy and not satisfactory. We do not know all the people involved.”

TUT spokesperson Phaphama Tshisikhawe did not respond to questions about this.

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