Misrepresenting one’s qualifications is a serious offense that can have severe consequences
In South Africa, it is a criminal offense to falsely or fraudulently claim to hold a qualification or part-qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) or awarded by an education institution, skills development provider, or quality council. The National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act 12 of 2019 has implications not only for prospective employees and/or job seekers who misrepresent their qualifications but also for employers seeking to appoint such prospective employees or job seekers. The act provides that prospective employees and/or job seekers who are found to have misrepresented their qualifications may face possible jail time, a fine, or both. The amendments also introduce an obligation on employers to validate any qualification presented to them by ensuring that the qualification is registered on the national learners’ records database before appointing the prospective employee and/or job seeker. In circumstances where the qualification is not registered on the national learners’ records database, employers are required to verify the qualification with the South African Qualifications Authority.
The case of Thabi Leoka, who was appointed as a non-executive director at Netcare in 2021 despite a verification report commissioned by the company indicating that her highest qualification was a Master’s degree, highlights the importance of verifying the accuracy of the information provided by employees. Despite the verification report being at odds with Leoka’s CV, Netcare went on to tell shareholders and the public that she had a PhD. This is a clear example of how misrepresenting one’s qualifications can have serious consequences for both the individual and the company.
It is important for companies to conduct thorough background checks and verify the accuracy of the information provided by their employees, especially for high-ranking positions where the individual’s qualifications and experience are critical to the success of the company. Companies can also consider implementing additional measures, such as validating any qualification presented to them by ensuring that the qualification is registered on the national learners’ records database before appointing the prospective employee and/or job seeker. By taking these steps, companies can help prevent qualification fraud and ensure that they are hiring qualified individuals who can contribute to the success of the company.