Biggest fake degree scandals in South Africa

Net1 CEO Serge Belamant recently said he was a victim of a fake PhD scandal, joining a list of high-profile South Africans who made headlines for having fake qualifications.

By - March 2, 2016 Share on LinkedIn

Net1 CEO Serge Belamant is the latest high-profile South African who was found to have a fake degree.

Belamant, Net1’s CEO since 2000 and its board’s chairperson since 2003, had been referring to himself as Dr Belamant.

Two Net1 board members conducted a review into Belamant’s qualifications amid questions on social media over the validity of his “honorary PhD in Information Technology and Management conferred by Burkes University”.

“In light of the review, Belamant and the board have come to the conclusion that it is likely that Belamant was the unfortunate victim of a scam and that the honorary degree was not legitimate,” said the company.

Belamant joins a growing list of high-profile South Africans who have been caught with fake qualifications. Here are some of these individuals.

Net1 CEO Serge Belamant claimed to have an honorary PhD, and referred to himself as Dr Belamant.

Serge Belamant

Net1 CEO Serge Belamant has headed up the company since 2000, and served as chairperson of the company’s board since 2003.

He referred to himself as Dr Belamant, after obtaining an honorary doctorate from Burkes University.

However, after questions were raised about his qualification on social media, the board discovered that Belamant’s honorary degree was fake.

The company said that Belamant was the victim of a scam, and that the honorary degree was not legitimate.

Source: Net1 CEO gave money to fake university for PhD

Daniel Mtimkulu, Prasa’s head of engineering, claimed to have a doctorate in engineering.

Daniel Mtimkulu

Prasa’s head of engineering, Daniel Mtimkulu, lead the team that designed the Afro 4000 locomotive. The locomotives have been the subject of reports questioning their suitability for local conditions.

After Beeld reported that Mtimkulu’s claims that he had a doctorate in engineering from a German university could not be verified, Prasa investigated the matter.

It emerged that Mtimkulu was not registered as an engineer, and Prasa said that Mtimkulu lied about his qualifications.

Source: Prasa’s head of engineering lied about his qualifications

Pallo Jordan, a former South African cabinet minister, claimed to have a doctorate from the London School of Economics.

Pallo Jordan

Pallo Jordan served as Minister of Post, Telecommunications, and Broadcasting; and as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

Jordan’s CV contained the following claim: “Dr Jordan… acquired a postgraduate degree from the London School of Economics”.

The Sunday Times revealed that Jordan has no formal academic qualifications. He subsequently apologised and resigned from Parliament and from the ANC’s national executive committee

Source: Pallo Jordan’s phantom doctorate

Hlaudi Motsoeneng, SABC COO, claimed to have a matric certificate.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng claimed to have passed high school in his interview for a position at the SABC.

The Public Protector was asked to investigate the claim, and found that Motsoeneng lied about his qualifications.

Despite a recommendation from the Public Protector that he should be removed from his position, he is still serving as the SABC’s COO.

Source: Don’t punish Motsoeneng for lying: SABC

Ellen Tshabalala, SABC chairperson, claimed to have BCom and postgraduate degrees from UNISA.

Zandile Ellen Tshabalala

SABC chairperson Ellen Tshabalala claimed to have BCom and postgraduate degrees from the University of South Africa.

The Mail & Guardian revealed that Tshabalala does not have the qualifications she claimed, and that she failed most of her modules at Unisa.

Tshabalala resigned as chairperson of the SABC on 17 December 2014.

Source: SABC chair Ellen Tshabalala resigns

Mohau Pheko, South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, claimed to have a doctorate from La Salle University (which sold degrees).

Mohau Pheko

South Africa’s ambassador to Japan, Mohau Pheko, claimed to have a PhD from La Salle University. This “university” closed in 1996 when it emerged it was selling degrees and other academic qualifications online.

Pheko apologised for misrepresenting her qualifications on her CV, saying she registered for and worked towards her degree with La Salle, but did not complete the qualification.

The DA called for the suspension of Pheko in February 2015. However, Pheko remains SA’s ambassador to Japan.

Source: South Africa’s ambassador to Japan Mohau Pheko admits lying about PhD

Sicelo Shiceka, former Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, claimed to have a Master’s degree in political economy from the University of the Free State.

Sicelo Shiceka

Former Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka claimed to have a Master’s degree in political economy from the University of the Free State.

The Mail & Guardian revealed in 2010 that this was not true, and that he was not in the process of completing the degree as his spokesperson claimed.

Lacea Loader, University of the Free State spokesperson, said: “He was registered here from 2004 to 2005, but he never completed the degree.”

Source: Shiceka: Hey big spender

Tshwane University of Technology vice-chancellor Johnny Molefe received his doctorate from an unaccredited degree mill.

Johnny Molefe

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) vice-chancellor Johnny Molefe received his doctorate from St George University International in the Bahamas – an unaccredited degree mill.

The Mail & Guardian reported that Molefe knew four years before his appointment that South Africa’s statutory qualifications authority would not recognise his doctorate.

Source: Molefe ‘shocked’ about fake degree

More on qualifications

Who has the best qualifications – ANC vs DA

No qualifications are fine, as long as you succeed

Fake qualifications growing problem in Africa

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us



Do you think online gambling should be regulated in South Africa?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

South Africa’s broadband is cheaper, and slower, than you think

South Africa Salary Money in Pocket

The latest Point Topic residential broadband tariff benchmarks reveal how much broadband services cost globally and what speeds users enjoy.

MTN to launch “unbeatable” customisable cellphone contracts

MTN Sim card

MTN will launch a new cellphone contract system in South Africa which will let customers tailor their own packages, saving them money.

Where to watch the 2016 Comrades Marathon online


Here is where you can stream this year’s Comrades Marathon.

What the new Top Gear needs to be a smash hit

Top Gear

The much anticipated return of Top Gear to the BBC raises a big broadcasting question: is the post-Jeremy Clarkson version doomed to fail or will it help sustain the brand’s success?


Newsletter Subscription

Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *
Captcha image

Free MyBroadband Newsletter