Emalahleni — Two officials, three lecturers and four students accused of being involved in cheating in exams at an Mpumalanga Further Education and Training (FET) college were remanded in custody on Friday pending their bail application on November 30.
The nine, including campus manager of the Shepherd Academy in Emalahleni, Maesela Douglas Ntlhane, 27, and the academy's marketing manager, Jeffrey Mathula Sebola, 39, were not asked to plead to charges of corruption when they appeared in the Witbank Magistrate's Court.
"Their appearance follows an investigation by the [Hawks] after receiving information about examination question papers that had been sold to students who were allegedly writing exams in their rooms," provincial police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said.
It is believed some of the suspects were writing exams on behalf of students who weren't even there.
The academy is a private institution that offers FET courses.
Spokesperson for the Department of Higher Education and Training Vuyelwa Qinga said in a statement that the police acted on a tip-off and swooped on the college. The students then led the police to other venues where the same thing was happening.
"We proceeded to confiscate all writing material found at the venues. Initial investigations indicated that the students got the question papers from some members of the college staff," she said.
She said question papers, as well as blank and completed answer books, bags and envelopes were found in some of the staff members' cars.
The four students who were arrested have agreed to turn state witnesses.
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said more arrests were expected.
"Our collaboration with the law enforcement agencies will lead to even more arrests where such incidents are found to be happening," he said.
"It is totally unacceptable that staff would also be involved in such a cruel scam which compromises the future of poor children, their employment prospects as well as our economy," he added.
The subjects that were written include the following: Industrial Organisation and Planning N3, Building and Structural Construction N4, Building Drawing N3, Power Machine N6, Engineering Science N4, Engineering Science N2 and Building and Structural Construction N6.
Qinga said the department would assign a team of selected markers to scrutinise the college's exam scripts to determine the extent of the leakage.
"A notice has been sent to all marking centres to be extra vigilant of trends in answers given by candidates in all the subjects written for the examinations that were written." she said.