Three people accused of selling fake matric certificates have been remanded in custody by the Botshabelo Magistrate’s Court in the Free State, following an appearance in court on Tuesday.
Joel Mpotle (38), Tebello Mohale (39) and Lefa Ntshasa (49) were arrested by The Hawks on the 31 December 2016, following a tip-off that they were selling fake Umalusi Senior Certificates.
They sold a fraudulent certificate to an undercover police officer for R3 000 at a shopping complex in Botshabelo.
Investigations revealed that Tebello was previously sentenced to five years, three of which were suspended, for a similar offence.
Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, says fraudsters need to be exposed.
“We are having issues with people who do not take education seriously,” he says. “We are working hard to protect the integrity of the matric certificate because it is an important document.”
He says perpetrators must serve the maximum penalty and warns that students should not believe that they are exempt.
“The law applies to everyone, whether it’s a criminal who is selling or a desperate student who wants these fake documents – both will be punished,” he adds.
Elijah says there are security features on the matric certificate that can help employers and tertiary institutions identify if they are fake or not.
Instead, he encourages learners to take part in the Second Chance Matric Support Programme that is aimed at assisting those who did not pass matric well.
“This is an opportunity for young people to take advantage of the resources available to them,” he explains. “We have internet facilities for learners to get material as well as radio and television broadcasting for learning.”
He adds that there are more than 1 000 people who walk through the doors of the Department of Basic Education wanting copies of their matric certificates.
“It is a very important document because it helps you find a job and gives you an opportunity to further your studies. We need to protect the integrity of our senior certificate and make sure that it is not corrupted,” he says.