Proposed harsher penalties for applicants who lie on their CVs

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According to an IOL report dated 31 January 2019, the number of false qualifications is on the rise in the country, with 97 national qualifications that were found to be fraudulent and misrepresented during the period of October-November 2018. Therefore, as a response to this shocking statistic, the National Qualifications Amended Bill was introduced into the National Assembly and the changes discussed hereunder could be effected.

The National Qualifications Framework Act No. 67 of 2008 (“The Act”) is proposed to apply to every qualification and/or part-qualification that must be registered in terms of the Act. The South African Qualifications Association (“SAQA”) must, in order to advance the objectives of the Act verify all qualifications or part-qualifications and make a decision on the status thereof.

Any person who claims that a qualification or part-qualification has been awarded to him/her by an educational institution, skills development provider or foreign institution whereas in fact no such qualification or part-qualification has been awarded, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence which may be imposed for an offence of fraud. This means that if an applicant lies on his/her CV about whether having the necessary qualification will be guilty of the offence of fraud.

Any person or educational institution who claims that he/she/it is offering any qualification or part-qualification that is registered in terms of the Act, whereas such qualification or part-qualification is not registered, is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for the offence of fraud.

Any person or educational institution who claims that he/she/it is accredited by a legally recognised body to offer any qualification or part-qualification whereas no such accreditation was granted, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for the offence of fraud.

Any person who produces a certificate, diploma, degree, computer printout and/or any falsified records in connection with a qualification or part-qualification, to the prejudice of any other person, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for forgery.

Any person who passes off a certificate, diploma, degree, computer printout or any falsified records in connection with a qualification or part-qualification, to the prejudice of another person, will be guilty of an offence and will be liable on conviction to any sentence that may be imposed for uttering.

What if I help someone or know of any person who has falsified or incorrectly misrepresented the presence of a qualification or part-qualification?

Any person who conspires with any other person and/or incites, instructs, commands or procures another person to commit an offence in terms of this Act, is guilty of an offence of aiding, abetting, inciting, conspiring another person to commit an offence in terms of this Act and is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding 3 (three) years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

What factors will the court take into consideration when sentencing an individual who has lied on his/her/their CV?

A court which imposes any sentence in terms of this amendment bill must, without excluding any other relevant factors, consider aggravating factors such as the extent of the prejudice and loss suffered by the complainant as the result of the commission of such an offence; and the extent to which the person gained financially, or received any favour, benefit or reward from the commission of the offence.

The proposed Amendment Bill is a step in the right direction in the combat of fraud nationwide. This has specific bearing on those candidates in high-profile employment positions such as, but is not limited to, CEOs and politicians.

Reference List:

  • National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008.
  • National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill (Government Gazette No. 40430 of 18 November 2016).
  • IOL report: 31 January 2019.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)