Jail awaits if you fake your matric

A matric pupil searching for their names on newspapers during the release of results. (Oupa Nkosi/ M&G)

A matric pupil searching for their names on newspapers during the release of results. (Oupa Nkosi/ M&G)

One can buy a matric certificate for between R300 and R3 000, it has emerged.

Recently, education quality assurer Umalusi raised a red flag about two websites that sell fake matric certificates, a criminal offence.

Umalusi spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane said that since 2016 the body had identified 8 559 fake matric certificates. Of this number, 144 were uncovered at seven universities that had asked Umalusi to verify applications from prospective students.

Ditaunyane told the Mail & Guardian that a man found guilty of selling fake matric certificates was sentenced to five years in jail in the Free State in 2016.  And former KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge is currently serving five years in jail after he was found to have presented a fake matric certificate when he joined the South African Police Service in 1987.

READ MORE: Matric ‘cheats’ let off the hook after two years of legal wrangling

Umalusi receives requests for the verification of matric certificates every day — mostly from employers who are doing background checks on prospective employees.

The spokesperson for the department of basic education, Elijah Mhlanga, said fraudsters who produce matric certificates pander to the desperation of people who have realised the importance of this qualification.

He said some of these people had not passed matric in the 1980s, 1990s or the early 2000s and didn’t know where to turn. “So, when someone offers them a quick-fix solution in exchange for cash, they easily fall for it, hoping that they will be able to explore opportunities in terms of employment or furthering their education,” said Mhlanga.

He said there is a legal way of obtaining a matric certificate — “at no cost, except requiring you to make time to study and prepare for exams”.

Mhlanga said the department’s second-chance programme gave everyone a chance — even those who had long since left school. The curriculum might have evolved but much of what they learned back then is still relevant. Resources such as video and radio broadcast lessons, study guides and revision material were also available, he noted.

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