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Clamping down on qualifications fraud

Fined or imprisoned, or both.

In 2015, the South African Fraud Prevention Services (SAFPS) recorded many fraud cases relating to the falsification/illegal issues of qualifications.

The most popular forms of qualifications fraud are non-existent matric certificates, inflated education, unfinished degrees and fake degree certificates.

The consequences for employers who hire individuals who are not appropriately trained or qualified can be catastrophic. Not only does it drain the bottom line and management time in terms of training expenses and performance management, it can also be downright dangerous, particularly for employers who conduct operations that require highly skilled and trained employees.

Offence and repercussions

The recently enacted National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Act, 12 of 2019 (Qualifications Act) makes it a criminal offence to misrepresent their qualifications, or for institutions who do not hold requisite accreditations to enrol students into their institutions. It is punishable by a fine or a period of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years, or both.

Employer obligation

Employers should verify qualifications with the national learners’ records database before applicants are hired. If applicants are not registered, employers are required to inform SAQA and request a verification process. SAQA is required to inform the enquirer and the holder of the qualification or part qualification of its findings, which if challenged, may be referred for review.

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