/ 2 March 2008

Chippy Shaik stripped of doctorate

Shamim ”Chippy” Shaik has been stripped of his doctorate degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal without reason, his brother and lawyer Yunis Shaik said on Sunday.

Quoting a statement from Shamim, Yunis said: ”The senate passed a resolution on the 28th February to withdraw the degree awarded to Dr Shamim Shaik.

”To date no reasons and the evidence in support thereof have been given for this decision.”

Last year, media reports said that ”more than two-thirds” of Shaik’s 2003 PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the then-University of Natal had been plagiarised and an inquiry had been set up to probe the matter.

Shaik has repeatedly denied any allegations of plagiarism.

The Sunday Times said that Shaik had been unmasked as a fake.

However, his brother described the sentate’s decision as ”startling and the process that produced it, a gross violation of the rules of fair play and natural justice”.

He said his brother intended to challenge the university’s decision in the High Court.

He said Chippy had been assured at the beginning of the investigation into the authenticity of his doctoral thesis that the inquiry would be ”fair and just”.

Shaik argued that the university breached these undertakings.

”[He] was not afforded a proper opportunity to defend the thesis; instead, all he was provided with were a list of questions to respond to. His written reply was comprehensive and proved conclusively that he did not plagiarise the work of any other,” the statement said.

”The university provided no text to support the allegation of plagiarism. There is only the bold claim that a text written by Prof Pishkunov and ”Others” were copied.

”The claim is absurd, as Prof Piskunov was an external examiner for the thesis. As he wrote the text and examined the thesis he is the person best placed to say if there was any plagiarism.”

Shaik argued that it was Pishkunov himself, the man whose work Shaik is accused of plagiarising, who served as examiner for the thesis and recommended that the a doctorate be awarded.

”He made no claim that the work was copied or that any correction be made to the thesis,” said Yunis.

He said the academic affairs board had conducted the inquiry in secret and Chippy had never been notified or given an opportunity to defend himself.

”This allegation was tested at the enquiry of Prof Sarp Adali before an independent advocate of the High Court. It was proved beyond doubt at that enquiry, [that] this allegation, had no substance,” he said.

”The registrar of the university gave the attorneys of Dr Shaik and [sic] undertaking not to proceed to revoke the doctorate until the decision in the Adali matter was handed down.”

Shaik argued that the breach of this undertaking and the haste to revoke the degree was to ”avoid and pre-empt the decision in the Adali matter to the effect that there was no plagiarism”.

”The university, while pretending to be a champion of human rights in public, in private, conducts itself in gross violation of human rights.

”The university even breached their own written undertakings given to Dr Shaik’s attorney. And when he protested he was told by the principal to ”shut up!” he said.

Shaik said the university’s decision would be studied to determine how to ”challenge this irregular and unlawful conduct of the university”.

The university was not immediately not available for comment.

Chippy Shaik is the brother of jailed businessman Schabir Shaik — the former financial advisor to African National Congress president Jacob Zuma — who is challenging his conviction for fraud. – Sapa