The falsfication of qualifications will lead to hefty fines and/or will land offenders in prison for up to five years after President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the commencement of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Amendment Act.

The Bill was signed into law in August 2019 but its enforcement was delayed until Ramaphosa proclaimed 13 October as the date when it would come into operation.

According to the statute, a person will be guilty of an offence if they make or cause to be made a false entry in the national learners’ records database or the misrepresented or fraudulent qualifications register. 

The Sunday Independent reports that it will also be a criminal offence to be a party to the falsification and dissemination or publication of a qualification or part-qualification or the records of the national learners’ records database or the misrepresented or fraudulent qualifications register or if, with a fraudulent purpose, or if a person knowingly provides false or misleading information in any circumstances when required to provide information or give notice.

In addition, it will be an offence to falsely or fraudulently claim to hold a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF or awarded by an educational institution, skills development provider, quality council or obtained from a lawfully recognised foreign institution.

Nosipho Damane of the SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa) told The Sunday Independent that the delay in the implementation of the Act was due to various reasons not in the control of the Department of Higher Education & Training.

These include the Covid-19 lockdown, engagements that had to take place in preparation for the Act’s implementation, as well as implementation challenges that were presented by certain sections.

Damane said the DHET proposed that the impl ementation or operation of the section of the Act dealing with the referral of a qualification or part-qualification to Saqa for verification and evaluation be deferred pending meaningful consultation between the authority and Higher Education, Training & Technology Minister Dr Blade Nzimande.

Full report in The Sunday Independent