Vice-Chancellor Message – 13 August 2021
Dear UJ Community,
Many of you would have seen an article that appeared on News24 earlier this week which includes some sensational reporting about “UJ officials allegedly involved in attempted embezzlement of hundreds of millions in government funding” as stated in its headline. I thought it was important to clarify some issues related to this and set the record straight.
Firstly, I wish to state that the article is based on an old story dating back five years; the facts of which are well-documented and in the public domain as they were extensively covered in the media. The article refers to a series of events preceding 2017 and as far as we are concerned, none of the implicated people or entities mentioned in the article are currently UJ employees or have any association with the University, whatsoever, contrary to what was reported.
UJ was quick to act, and following a comprehensive probe by an independent audit, advisory and forensic services firm, civil action was duly instituted against four individuals and seven entities. This is in addition to the criminal charges. However, due to inter alia the ongoing criminal investigations, this matter is sub judice and it would not be appropriate for us to speak in the public domain about those pending matters.
With all implicated parties (four individuals and seven entities), the University duly laid criminal charges and instituted a civil claim. The criminal charges are currently being handled by the Hawks.
I further wish to reassure you that UJ takes claims of fraud and corruption seriously and that we do not tolerate these in any form. When such claims are made or emerge, the University has internal processes to investigate and act accordingly. This is an ethical and moral obligation, and the University will not hesitate to act against any of its employees found to have been involved in any acts of fraud and corruption or any other transgression.
In this regard, I remind you that our University has developed a strategy to fight fraud, premised upon the principle that we can only be effective if we are able to involve the entire University in our efforts. Fraud prevention and early detection should not be the sole responsibility of only one department, faculty, or person within the organisation. Rather, it should be a shared responsibility of all employees, students and external stakeholders. The Fraud Prevention strategy within UJ consists of five key components:
- The promotion of the UJ values of Ethical Foundation, thereby actively promoting an ethos of honesty, transparency, accountability, and fairness in all our endeavours.
- A commitment to a zero tolerance for fraud.
- Control mechanisms to prevent and detect fraud.
- A culture that will discourage fraud. A pro-active approach to fraud, being facilitated by policies and procedures, fraud risk registers, gift policy etc.
- Communication at all levels about fraud and unethical behaviour
To facilitate the above, UJ has appointed an independent Ethics hotline service provider in the form of Tip-offs Anonymous to help the University fight and combat fraud and unethical behaviour within the workplace. The hotline provides a reporting service in various forms, including e-mail, internet reports, or free voice calls. Take a bold stand and help us fight unethical behaviour within our University by using the UJ Ethics Hotline contact details below:
- FreeCall: 0800 872 846
- Email: UJ@tip-offs.com
- FreeFax: 0800 00 77 88
- FreePost: KZN 138, Umhlanga Rocks, 4320
- Website: www.tip-offs.com
As the saying goes, good news always outweighs the bad. Yesterday, Thursday 12 August 2021, we paused to reflect on the progress and challenges of the last academic year (2020) as we launched the UJ 2020 Stakeholder Report. As was the case last year, because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the event was hosted as a webinar, this time under the theme, “Leadership in a time of crisis: Through the eyes of UJ’s Stakeholder Report.”
The Chair of UJ Council, Mr Mike Teke, and myself were the speakers, while Mr Sakumzi (Saki) Macozoma – one of South Africa’s most decorated businessmen who has held leadership positions in various entities – was the guest speaker. He is currently the chairman of Safika Holdings and Tshipi é Ntle and Ntsimbintle Mining. Click here to read more about the event.
Please join me in congratulating Professor Daniel Meyer from the School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy (College of Business and Economics), who was invited by the Presidency to serve on the 2021 Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium (SIDSSA). This platform brings together critical role-players in the infra-structure investment space, who are galvanising around a key goal of accelerating an infra-structure-led economic recovery plan. Prof Meyer, we wish you all the best on this exciting journey, well done!
Today, the UJ Institute for the Future of Knowledge (IFK) will hold a virtual book launch – Africa’s Soft Power: Philosophies, Political Values, Foreign Policies and Cultural Exports, between 14:00 and 15:30. The book investigates how African countries use soft power to help drive global influence, drawing from four case studies: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt. Professor Kammila Naidoo (Executive Dean, Faculty of Humanities) will give the opening remarks. Professor Thuli Madonsela (former Public Protector and the Law Trust Chair in Social Justice, Stellenbosch University), will chair the event, while Dr Oluwaseun Tella, Director, The Future of Diplomacy, IFK and the author of the book will be the speaker. To register, click here.
Still on book matters, please join me today as I will be part of a book discussion with Dr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, author of the book, The New Apartheid, between 15:00 and 16:30. He makes the intriguing assertion that “apartheid did not die, but it was privatised.” Click here to join the discussion.
As recently communicated, our Sport division will host its second annual Sports Conference on 19 and 20 August 2021, organised under the theme, “Safeguarding Sports.” Excitingly, our UJ athletes who represented the country in the Tokyo Olympic Games will share their experiences from the global games. Panelists such as Brenda Matafwali Chipande, Debbie Wade, Ian Braid and Wafeekah Begg-Jassiem will shed light on bullying, abuse, anti-doping, child protection and caring for professionals who look after sportspeople. To register for this conference, please follow the required steps found on the conference page.
Please inform us about your vaccinations status via the link: https://ulink.uj.ac.za/staffvac. Enter the information after your first vaccination, and where relevant, update it after your second vaccination. The survey takes less than one minute. We use the numbers (and not your personal details), to inform us on the vaccination statistics of the UJ community. The statistics will guide us in our response to the COVID-19 situation and the implementation of our re-integration plans.
As usual, I remind you to notify our campus clinics if you have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you know of a colleague or a student who has tested positive. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus//. We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and physical distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.
Kea leboga, enkosi, baie dankie, ndi a livhuwa!
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg
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