University of South Africa executive director for legal services Jan van Wyk was the first witness to be called in Parliament’s communications portfolio committee inquiry into whether or not SABC chair Ellen Tshabalala lied about her academic qualifications on her CV.
Van Wyk confirmed that even though Tshabalala had registered for a BCom degree in 1988, and again in 1996, she failed to obtain the qualification. According to Unisa records, she had also registered for a diploma in labour relations in 1995.
During the academic year, she passed two, failed two and did not write exams for two of the modules. In January 1996, she was allowed to rewrite the two she could not write the previous year. She obtained a mark of 13% for her human resources module and 35% for labour relations. Unisa then wrote to Tshabalala informing her that she had not qualified to redo the course.
“What it [the letter] says is when this [the results] came out you [Tshabalala] did so poorly you will not be allowed to be readmitted again,” Van Wyk said.
It emerged that, in 2011, Mercedes Benz requested confirmation of Tshabalala’s qualifications from Unisa when she applied for a job at the company.
The university had informed an intermediary – acting on behalf of Mercedes Benz – that Tshabalala had not obtained any of the qualifications she claimed to have.
Two charges of misconduct
Tshabalala faces two charges of misconduct in the inquiry: one for claiming she had obtained the two qualifications on her CV when she applied for the job as SABC chairperson, the other relating to an affidavit she submitted to Parliament stating that her qualifications had been stolen during a burglary at her home.
Tshabalala was not present at Wednesday’s inquiry.
Evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf after the committee denied a request by Tshabalala’s attorney for a postponement.
Earlier, Michael Tillney, for Tshabalala, told the committee his client would not plead to the charges of misconduct against her.
Instead, Tillney read out an affidavit from his client in which she cites “procedural unfairness” as a reason for not being at the inquiry.
“There are allegations of procedural unfairness in the convening of this meeting today, [Wednesday] and also there’s the application for leave to appeal,” said Tillney.
Leave to appeal
Tshabalala has filed notice of leave to appeal a Cape Town high court order refusing her bid to halt the parliamentary inquiry.
“The effect of this should be to postpone the hearing of the inquiry pending the outcome of the appeal,” Tshabalala said in her affidavit.
She wants time to produce forensic evidence in her defence.
Irate committee chair Joyce Moloi-Moropa said that MPs had already bent over backwards to accommodate Tshabalala.
On advice from Vanara, the committee decided to proceed in Tshabalala’s absence. – Sapa