A few months after the minister of higher education and training Dr Blade Nzimande wrote a scathing letter to the University of Zululand (Unizulu) council and executives to get their house in order or be placed under administration, a former academic at the institution opened criminal charges against the vice-chancellor.
In an affidavit The Citizen is in possession of, a former education lecturer submitted under oath that Prof Xoliswa Mtose, the Unizulu vice-chancellor, be investigated for allegations of tender rigging, contravention of the university’s supply-chain policy, fraud, irregular and wasteful expenditure, violating higher education act and misrepresenting her CV.
Most of the allegations the Mtunzini police are requested to investigate are corroborated in the minister’s September 2016 letter and form part, substantially, of a submission National, Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) made during the portfolio committee on higher education and training hearing held in Durban in February.
“During the early part of 2016 a printing centre contract was awarded to Process-Litho. There was no prescribed tender process. The supply-chain management policy of the university was thus transgressed. The contract is a huge financial commitment on the university to the benefit of proprietors(s) of Process-Litho.
“The result of the agreement between Process-Litho, which is basically the tenant, and the university has meant that the university pays Process-Litho an amount of R900 000 per month,” the affidavit reads. It further points to annexures that suggest the majority shareholder of the company is related to the wife of Minister Nzimande.
The affidavit also alleges Farrel Attorneys of Durban was unduly used by the university despite not being on the institution’s database of service providers for services that included internal disciplinary processes against employees.
The affidavit further alleges that Unizulu “wilfully” defrauded employees by way of salary deductions using a nonexistent court order.
The axed academic further alleges: “During the early part of 2015, a fraudulent tender was awarded by Prof Mtose to LMOSS … they were not the lowest bidder in terms of pricing. The tender was for teaching of a computer course which had previously been offered by university [academic] departments.”
“During July 2016, an irregular tender that was awarded to BOSS security company with an exorbitant amount of about R285 000. This amounted to about R9 million a month, while other universities with double the number of students were paying R2 million a month.
“The then Protective Services Director [PSD], who should have been consulting in procuring of external security services, was never brought on board when BOSS was given the contract. It is not proper for an external security firm to be appointed without participation of the incumbent head of security of the institution,” the affidavit alleges.
The affidavit also states there was suspicion that some members of the university council had connections with BOSS security owners and revealed that “BOSS security guards are said to have been registered with the security regulators in the field”.
Vice-chancellor accused of illegally awarding a postgraduate education qualification to an SRC president
“During the late 2015, students funds to the amount of R35 million were used to buy luxury accommodation for Prof Mtose and her executives. This was done despite the university reportedly having a lot of houses that are in many instances occupied by people who are no longer working for the university. Prof Mtose also had an official house reserved for the occupation which she vacated and is left abandoned.
“During the 2015 academic year, students’ accommodation was purchased without following procedure. There was no prior independent evaluation of the property to safeguard the interests of the University. There was also no requisite prior approval by the ministry of higher education and training,” the affidavit continues.
The affidavit makes allegations regarding academic marks being fraudulently awarded to an SRC president, resulting in an undue awarding of a postgraduate certificate in education. Mtose is accused of further “illegally” replacing accredited bachelor of education programmes “with her unapproved programmes”, effectively offering students “fake qualifications”.
Cyril Gamede, the embattled CEO of Umgeni Water Board and Unizulu council chairperson, Mtose, Gcina Nhleko, the Unizulu director of corporate communications and Madikwe Mabotha, DHET spokesperson were sent a number of questions via email, and The Citizen is awaiting their response.
Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks), informed The Citizen that the investigation against Unizulu council members as well the vice-chancellor and members of her executive management was ongoing, and was awaiting a progress report from the anti-corruption unit of queries raised.