University of South Africa (Unisa) has denied that honorary doctorate degrees were handed over to socialite Phemphero Mphande, Malawian musician Patience Namadingo and Mansoor Sharif Karim.
Unisa spokesperson Tommy Huma said, “Unisa has become aware through social media posts and media queries, that Mphande, Namadingo, as well as Karim claim to have received honorary doctorates from the university in 2020, 2022 and 2023 respectively.
“Unisa wishes to state categorically that it has not conferred any such degrees on the trio and that any assertion to this effect was simply not true.”
Huma said the three individuals were not among the candidates considered and approved for the awarding of honorary doctorates in 2020, 2021 and 2023.
“Neither have they ever been nominated, considered or approved for such honours at any period whatsoever. “
Huma also said that no honorary degrees were awarded in 2022 at Unisa.
“The certificates displayed by Mphande and Namadingo are not Unisa degree certificates.”
He said when awarding honorary doctorates at Unisa, a strictly-controlled process with nominations and approvals was gone through by various governance structures of the university until final approval by the university council.
Once such approval has been secured, the conferment itself is done at an open graduation ceremony of the university, in full view of those attending and presided over by a duly authorised official of the university, usually the chancellor or principal and vice-chancellor.
But here is the video of those mentioned in the letter. This thing is deep. It has been going on for years. Allegedly, UNISA awards foreign nationals with PhD’s in exchange of kickbacks. This ranges from R500,000 to R1million per individual. pic.twitter.com/HwiVgrKWV6
— Wonders (@lethal_gentle) November 7, 2023
“Any claim of the awarding of an honorary degree which did not follow this process cannot be an official Unisa process.”
Acting registrar Prof Moloko Sepota said, “As a university, we distance ourselves from these false claims and also condemn in the strongest terms the misuse of the Unisa name for fraudulent conduct. Relevant officials within the university have been directed to look into this matter and ensure that these individuals are held to account and also made to retract any false claims.”
Mphande claimed his degree was real.
According to him, earlier this year, he was contacted by individuals awarding honorary doctorates on behalf of Unisa.
“They felt they could recognise our work.
“These individuals have previously recognised others at ceremonies held at Unisa and other campuses.
“I was recognised at a well-patronised ceremony alongside other individuals from Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo, South Africa and Nigeria and this ceremony was organised and conducted by the same individuals that have been doing this for years.”
He said he saw the university’s denial as part of a scam.
“I would be happy to work with Unisa to get to the bottom of this. Our team will investigate and would love to meet with officials from Unisa to understand how this has happened under their noses for years.
“Mphande is not a scammer, criminal or otherwise. If anything, I am a victim of a scam that Unisa can explain better.”
Namadingo in a statement said he believed there was more to the matter.
“We don’t think the big event organised itself with professor and filled the Unisa great hall with South Africans just to fool Malawians?
“It has also taken years before the university discovered as this was three years ago with other 35 graduands from different countries.”
Koma Unisa needs to explain this pic.twitter.com/STXV2yV60w
— Winning (@Mihawastyles) November 7, 2023
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