From shocking to bizarre: the fakes and their flaky stories

Perhaps the most shocking of the fake academic claims this year was the revelation that struggle veteran Pallo Jordan, one of the ANC`s most respected intellectuals, had lied about holding a PhD. For more than three decades, Jordan was regarded abroad and in South Africa as one of the country`s best political brains, with a doctorate from the London School of Economics.

Perhaps the most shocking of the fake academic claims this year was the revelation that struggle veteran Pallo Jordan, one of the ANC`s most respected intellectuals, had lied about holding a PhD. For more than three decades, Jordan was regarded abroad and in South Africa as one of the country`s best political brains, with a doctorate from the London School of Economics.

But an inquiry by the Sunday Times about when he received the degree eventually led to the former arts and culture minister being exposed as a fraud. He has since admitted to holding no university degree and has resigned as an MP and an ANC national executive committee member. If Jordan`s story was shocking, the one involving SABC chairwoman Ellen Tshabalala is downright bizarre.

Tshabalala was appointed to the SABC board late last year as part of the government`s strategy to turn around the fortunes of the public broadcaster. She was soon embroiled in controversy after a newspaper revealed that her claim of holding a BCom degree from Unisa. She lost but still refused to appear before a parliamentary committee was untrue. Tshabalala promised to provide evidence that she did have the degree. She then said her certificates had been stolen some years earlier during a break-in at her house and she was waiting for the university to give her copies.

When parliament decided to investigate the matter, she went to the courts in a bid to get an interdict to halt the process. She lost but still refused to appear before a parliamentary committee investigating whether she had lied to parliament. The committee found that she had lied and recommended that she be fired. That recommendation is still going to be presented before the House.

In the meantime, committee members want President Jacob Zuma, who is said to be a friend of Tshabalala, to suspend her pending a parliamentary debate on their report. She maintains she has the degree and accuses Unisa of being part of a conspiracy against her. The Tshabalala saga started to unfold at a time when the public broadcaster was embroiled in a scandal involving its powerful chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela found earlier this year that Motsoeneng had lied about having a matric when he first applied for a job at the SABC in the mid-1990s.She recommended that he be suspended from the SABC`s executive and that the vacant post of chief operating officer be advertised. Instead of acting on the public protector`s report, the SABC decided to offer Motsoeneng a permanent contract. He has vowed to challenge Madonsela’s findings in court.

Another high-profile figure exposed as a fraud this year is SAA chairwoman Dudu Myeni. She also serves on the Jacob6Despite all this; Myeni was recommended to the PetroSA board Zuma Foundation and has a close relationship with the president. Myeni listed a Bachelor`s degree in administration from the University of Zululand when she was appointed to the SAA board in 2009.

She removed the qualification in the 2013 annual report. Despite all this, Myeni was recently recommended to the PetroSA board by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, but the Central Energy Fund board refused to appoint her. Also exposed for lying about his qualifications was KwaZulu-Natal police spokesman Vincent Mdunge. He was found guilty of fraud and forgery by the Durban Magistrate’s Court after it emerged that his matric certificate was a fake.  He is expected to be sentenced next week and has indicated that he plans to appeal against his conviction. Reports suggest that his estranged wife alerted authorities to the fact that he had a fake matric certificate.

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