SIU seeks Ramaphosa’s permission to probe degrees

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has applied to President Cyril Ramaphosa to amend the scope of its proclamation of the investigation into corruption at the University of Fort Hare.

If approved, the amendment, which is under consideration by Ramaphosa, would allow the SIU to investigate allegations of maladministration in the awarding of masters’ degrees at the university.

Speaking to Sunday World last week, SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the application was sent to Ramaphosa through the department of justice and correctional services.

The allegations of maladministration in the awarding of degrees at Fort Hare came under the spotlight when Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane took the SIU to court to challenge its investigations into his master’s degree registration.

Mabuyane was granted an interdict by the Bhisho High Court to stop the SIU from investigating the awarding of master’s degrees at the university in June last year, arguing that it went beyond the scope of the proclamation issued by Ramaphosa in August 2022.

The SIU has been investigating allegations of the mi management of funds, sourcing of public servants for study into various faculty programmes by an individual for personal gain and maladministration in the awarding of honours degrees.

Mabuyane was deregistered in March 2021 for not meeting the minimum requirements for admission to the master’s programme. The decision to deregister him was made by the university senate following an investigation conducted by the varsity.

Former director of the Fort Hare’s Bhisho campus and dean of the public administration faculty, Professor Edwin Ijeoma, resigned after the university launched an inquiry into allegations of irregularities in the admission and registration of two of his students.

While briefing parliament’s standing committee on public accounts on the progress of his unit’s investigation on March 27 this year, SIU head, advocate Andy Mothibi, said the Fort Hare investigation was ongoing and had its own findings.

He said after Mabuyane obtained the interdict it could not investigate irregularities in relation to the awarding of masters’ degrees.

“The court had indicated that the scope of the proclamation did not cover masters’ degrees – and had intimated that the SIU needed to get an amendment of the proclamation,” he said.

“The SIU had prepared the amendment and submitted it to the Department of Justice on July 7, 2023 for the proclamation to be processed,” he added.

The SIU submitted its first interim report to Ramaphosa late last year.

Kganyago said the SIU was planning to submit a second interim report to Ramaphosa by April 31, adding that the amendment of the proclamation was one of the contributing factors towards its inability to finalise its report.

On March 8, DA leader John Steenhuisen asked Ramaphosa in a written parliamentary question whether he had authorised an investigation by the SIU into allegations of degree fraud against Public Service and Administration Minister Noxolo Kiviet. Steenhuisen also asked whether the investigation was complete and what the findings were.

In his reply, Ramaphosa said the SIU proclamations were not meant for specific individuals but were rather related to alleged maladministration and malpractices in connection with the affairs of a state institution.

“I am informed by the SIU that the investigation is ongoing,” he said in his reply.

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News