14 March 2013

Namibia: Academic Fraudsters to Hear Sentence Next Week

Windhoek — State prosecutors and defence lawyers are set to argue on the sentences to be imposed on 11 people who have been charged with fraud for falsifying their academic qualifications.

The hearing of the 10 Angolans and one Namibian will resume on Monday March 18 in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court.

The accused are Mesias Francisco Gola, Andre Garcia Teixeira, Johannes Kandali Kalimbo, Fausto Raimundo Da Silva, Pedro Diogo, Oliviera Morais, Pedro Miguel Maiembe, Antonio Costa Francisco, Mario Augusto Da Costa, Tomas A. M. Quissanga and Danilcia Fernandes Garcia.

They were arrested on October 27 last year after they allegedly organised their own 'graduation party' at a local hotel with fake qualifications. They are charged with contravening section 34 of the Anti-Corruption Act, and for fraud, forgery and contravening section 46 of the Act and section 77 of the Education Act of 2001.

They have all pleaded guilty to the charges, with the exception of Kalimbo, who pleaded not guilty to some of the charges he faced, and the prosecutor has now referred the matter to the Prosecutor General's office for a ruling.

After the arrests, the ACC Director Paulus Noah urged tertiary institutions to exercise a higher degree of scrutiny before "they admit the mushrooming foreign students in their institutions".

"If they are capable of forging qualifications in Namibia, they are equally capable of doing so in their own respective countries," Noah said at the time. Noah urged employers to be on the lookout for academic cheats. Employers must verify the original academic certificates with the institutions where the qualifications are purportedly obtained.

The qualifications forged were from the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), the International University of Management (IUM) and Institute of Commercial Management (ICM), though other tertiary institutions such as the University of Namibia (Unam) were not ruled out, Noah said.

The ACC said the students bought forged certificates, which were sold for N$5 000 and N$7 500 each depending on the academic level. Investigations revealed someone was offered N$12 000 as well as a laptop to act as a representative of the Polytechnic of Namibia to hand over the certificates at the staged graduation party at a local hotel.

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