AfriForum launches legal action over alleged fraud and corruption at the University of Johannesburg

AfriForum served an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) on the University of Johannesburg (UJ) following alleged fraud and corruption at the highest levels of the university management between 2014 and 2017.

AfriForum’s application aims to obtain information about the hijacking of the intellectual property of the former UJ professor, Vivian Alberts. The court application follows after it became known that world-class technology for the production of thin-film solar technology was transferred to a private company by executive role players and board members of the university in an illegal manner and without Alberts’ knowledge. Alberts developed these thin-film solar technology, which have been patented worldwide, at UJ since 1993.

AfriForum’s legal team therefore requests on behalf of Alberts that the court orders the University of Johannesburg to provide information related to the hijacking of intellectual property rights and assets of Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTiP). PTiP is a spinoff company from UJ that was founded in 2005 by, among others, Alberts as a founding member and shareholder to commercialise the thin-film solar technology. The alleged hijacking of PTiP’s intellectual and commercial assets took place after the technology had already been successfully commercialised in Germany and China.

The main information that AfriForum wants to obtain through the PAIA application on behalf of Alberts, is a forensic audit report that deals with the corrupt activities regarding this hijacking and exploitation of intellectual property.

“By gathering this information, AfriForum hopes to uncover and address possible corruption and fraud at the University of Johannesburg. It is unacceptable and illegal if prominent role players at UJ abused their power to illegally transfer intellectual property to a private company for the purpose of self-enrichment,” says Ernst van Zyl, Campaign Officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum.

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