South Africa: NWU Council Discusses Claims of Wasteful Expenditure, Plagiarism

25 November 2018

The North West University (NWU) says it's aware of concerns, including claims of wasteful expenditure and plagiarism, raised by an anonymous group of stakeholders linked to the institution.

In a 14-page legal letter addressed to the chairperson of the NWU council, council members and several other senior managers, the group details several claims of "alleged misconduct".

In the document, sent by attorneys Moolman & Pienaar Ing., the group questions why the vice-chancellor, Professor Dan Kgwadi, lives in Pretoria while the residence provided by the university stands empty, despite the institution maintaining the property and paying "for municipal rates and services" and housekeeping.

The stakeholders say the situation is "contrary to University policy and the fiduciary responsibilities expected from the leadership of a public institution regulated under the Higher Education Act ... "

The group also questions the appointment of the director of talent management and recruitment, claiming she was hired despite not having the necessary qualifications and experience.

In its final request, it calls on the university to reveal the details of an investigation into a plagiarism probe, asking for, among others, the names of any academics who may have been found guilty of wrongdoing.

The group's lawyers say the members will only reveal their identities when they "are provided with sufficient guarantees that [they] will not in any way be prejudiced" for raising the alleged misconduct.

When approached for comment on the letter, the institution acknowledged it was aware of the issues detailed.

"The issues contained in the letter include the use of the official vice-chancellor's residence in Potchefstroom, the appointment of senior staff members, separation packages paid to senior managers, as well as progress regarding the investigation into alleged cases of plagiarism," NWU spokesperson Willie du Plessis said in a statement on Thursday.

Allegations nothing new

The university held a council meeting on Thursday to specifically address the issues raised in the legal letter and says the allegations were nothing new.

"Council is aware of the issues contained in the letter. These are not new ... and are mostly known matters which were handled by council and handled accordingly," Du Plessis added.

The council has since taken a resolution on the handling of the matter and will respond to the law firm accordingly.

"Council reiterates its stance that they are appointed to govern the NWU in terms of all applicable acts, policies and rules.

"Council encourages all stakeholders to continue to use the existing university channels to report matters which are of concern to them, and to exhaust all of these in accordance with the university's governance framework," Du Plessis concluded.

The group gave the university until Friday 23 November to respond to its lawyers.

Source: News24

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