Prof under investigation

Ann Eveleth

PUBLIC Protector Selby Baqwa confirmed this week that he is investigating allegations - uncovered during a probe into the beleaguered University of Zululand’s fake degree scandal - against a senior academic at the institution.

Associate professor of history, Jabulani Maphalala, is the vice-dean of the arts faculty and a member of the University Council. Baqwa confirmed he is investigating allegations that Maphalala irregularly altered a course grade for a student in terms of an unauthorised re-examination which allowed the student to graduate.

Baqwa said the alleged irregularity was uncovered when it emerged that the student - now employed in the admissions, registration and records section of the university - had allegedly also received two other irregular course grade changes. These other changes fell into the probe’s broader focus of course grades allegedly purchased illegally from corrupt officials.

A former Inkatha Freedom Party central committee member, Maphalala applied unsuccessfully for the post of truth and reconciliation commissioner.
His rejection was widely believed to result from his alleged involvement in the events surrounding the 1983 Ongoye Massacre in which several students were killed on the campus by an attacking impi after a student boycott opposed an invitation to IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi to address graduation ceremonies.

Maphalala could not be reached for comment at the time of going to press, but the documents in the possession of the Mail & Guardian suggest he was aware of the transgression.

University of Zululand’s head of protection services, Ken MacKay, confirmed his receipt in June of a letter from Maphalala, dated June 28 1996, which explained that he had given an oral special re-examination to the student without authorisation from his head of department.

“I unfortunately forgot to tell Professor Johan de Villiers about this oral examination because of other commitments which needed my attention. I have apologised to Professor de Villers about not informing him about this student,” Maphalala said in the letter.

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