Registrar Royston Pillay provides an update on some of the cases reported and concluded in 2018:
Last year we launched the “Speak Up Now” campaign with the aim of continuing to encourage staff, students and other interested parties to blow the whistle when they become aware of instances of unethical conduct or fraud at the University of Cape Town (UCT). Since then several allegations of unethical conduct have been reported via the Whistle-blowing Hotline. The university is a publicly funded institution and is committed to taking action to prevent and deal with fraud, corruption and unethical behaviour. The Fraud and Corruption Prevention policy formalises UCT’s position in this regard.
Where cases have been reported and have been found to be valid, given the evidence and substantiation provided, disciplinary action has been taken against the individuals concerned. Please be reminded that the hotline is not intended for those matters where other internal facilities already exist to address concerns that staff members may have. For example, for issues of discrimination or poor work performance disputes, other university structures exist that are equipped to deal with these matters, and the purpose of the hotline is not to duplicate those processes.
In 2018 the number of unique reports received was 37, which is more than double the number of cases (18) reported in 2017. If a matter is reported to the hotline multiple times with the same allegations, these calls are considered to be one unique case. The following are some of the 2018 cases which were resolved.
Complaint: The caller reported irregularities in one of the UCT faculties about funds being misused for personal gain.
Outcome: The investigation confirmed that funds were not used for personal gain but for projects approved by the relevant line managers.
Complaint: The whistle-blower alleged dereliction of duties and potential fraud.
Outcome: An investigation was conducted and confirmed that no fraud was committed.
Complaint: A report was received about poor work performance by a member of staff.
Outcome: The complainant was advised to engage the relevant line managers as this was not a matter for the hotline.
Complaint: The caller alleged recruitment irregularities in one the departments.
Outcome: The investigation confirmed that the recruitment process was in line with UCT policies.
Complaint: The caller alleged that UCT property was being misused.
Outcome: An investigation confirmed the allegation, which resulted in disciplinary action being taken and a sanction being imposed by the chairperson of the disciplinary committee.
Complaint: The caller reported concerns about how an investigation (independent from the Hotline) was being conducted.
Outcome: The caller was advised to report the matter to the appropriate line manager.
Complaint: A report was made that a student’s email was being used for illegal electronic phishing attempts.
Outcome: It was established that the student’s email account was compromised without the student’s knowledge and this was rectified.
Complaint: A caller raised concerns about a staff member abusing their authority to get their partner employed.
Outcome: The investigation confirmed that the staff member in question was not involved in the selection process and had no way of influencing the recruitment process.
There are a number of cases from 2018 where the investigation is still ongoing or further information is required. In cases where more information is required, we have written to the hotline requesting more details. The rights of all parties need to be respected when allegations are put forward to the university. Whistle-blowing is one of the most effective ways of preventing and/or detecting fraud and irregularities in any organisation. However, malicious allegations that cannot be substantiated work against the purpose that the hotline serves. By sharing an overview report of cases received, we are honouring our obligation to inform the UCT community of matters that have come to management’s attention.
The UCT Whistle-blowing Hotline number is 0800 650 000.