South Africa’s biggest qualification scandals

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) recently confirmed that its head of engineering, Daniel Mtimkulu, lied about his qualifications.

The confirmation from Prasa followed media reports which questioned Mtimkulu’s engineering credentials – which included a doctorate from a German institution.

This latest fake qualification debacle follows numerous other scandals which involved high-profile government officials and executives from state owned enterprises.

Here are some of the most prominent fake qualification scandals in the government and public service sectors which made headlines recently.


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

Daniel Mtimkulu
Daniel Mtimkulu

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

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

What emerged was 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

Pallo Jordan is an ANC veteran and one of South Africa’s best-known politicians. He 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 studied at the University of Wisconsin in the United States of America in 1962 and he 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
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 this claim, and she 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
Zandile Ellen Tshabalala

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

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

Tshabalala resigned as chairperson of the board 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
Mohau Pheko

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

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

The DA called for the immediate recalling and 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
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

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South Africa’s biggest qualification scandals