Unisa withholds critical information from independent investigator

AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has further questioned Unisa’s motive for suspending Dr Reshma Mathura, the university’s acting chief financial officer, as it has emerged that important information was not disclosed to the firm appointed to investigate her. The unit, which represents Mathura, believes that her role in flagging questionable contracts and her co-operation with a Hawks investigation into corruption at the institution is the motive for the steps taken against her.

Prof Puleng LenkaBula, vice chancellor, suspended Mathura on 19 April for several reasons, including allegations contained in an anonomous whistleblower report sent to Unisa management a few weeks prior. The report alleges that four unsolicited payments into Mathura’s private bank account were bribes paid by students in order to have their study funding approved.

In April, the unit sent a series of letters to LenkaBula and Dr Daniel Mosia, chairperson of the Unisa council, that addressed the contents of the whistleblower report, provided detailed information about what happened, and explained how the unsolicited payments were part of a scheme to falsely implicate Mathura.

Mathura has also provided a detailed statement to the Hawks which sets out all the facts and is now the subject of an investigation.

In May, Unisa appointed PWC to investigate the allegations contained in whistleblower report, but failed to dislose these letters to the team handling the case. PWC said in a letter to the unit, “…we have made enquiries with Unisa regarding the said correspondence and we have confirmed from the official responsible for this investigation at Unisa, that he and his team have no record and access to such correspondence”.

Adv Gerrie Nel, head of the Private Prosecution Unit, said in response: “To add to your client’s deliberate failure to respond to our letters, and the ham-fisted, knee-jerk reporting of this matter to the South African Police Service (SAPS), is the malicious failure to disclose such relevant correspondence to you. We need to emphasise that this correspondence is not only relevant, but critical for even starting an investigation. The fact that it appears to be impossible for your office to obtain our official correspondence from your client is alarming,” said Nel.

The failure of LenkaBula and Mosia to disclose the unit’s correspondence to PWC, and even to the university’s team handling the case, adds to the suspicion that university management is acting in bad faith and is complicit in the scheme to implicate Mathura in wrongdoing.

The unit will soon meet with PWC to discuss the status of their investigation, and the fact that the matter is also the subject of a Hawks investigation.

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