By Staff Reporter
A nursing graduate Hassan Sechaba Saidi might find himself on the wrong side of the law after it emerged that he was admitted at the Maluti Adventist Nursing College in Mapoteng, Berea on allegedly falsified academic certificate.
And now, the police have commenced with investigations to probe the alleged fraud after the Examinations Council of Lesotho (EcoL)L) reported the matter to the investigators in Maseru.
This was confirmed to this publication this week by the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) public relations officer Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli saying: “Yes we have received the complaint and we are beginning the investigations on the matter.”
His brief confirmation comes after EcoL manager Motebang Mabathoana’s told theReporter that the allegations of academic record forgery were laid before the police to investigate.
A long probe by theReporter has found out that Saidi, a former student at St James High School in Maseru completed his high school in 2011 after sitting for the Joint Examination for the School Certificate and General Certificate of Education.
He only qualified for the award of a General Certificate of Education (GCE).
It has been found out that the following year he enrolled at the Maluti Adventist Nursing College where he was admitted to begin studies in General Nursing and later on Midwifery, until 2017 when he completed his studies.
But a two-month long investigation by this publication has reliably established that Saidi’s school leaving certificate grades allegedly did not meet the required standards for admission at the college. He had obtained only a GCE which is regarded far below the requirement for entry to study at that nursing school run by the Seventh Day Adventist Mission.
In an interview early last month, Maluti Adventist Nursing College acting director Lillo Kuape said Saidi was admitted at the institution long before he assumed office in 2019.
He said the college has adopted a policy for prospective students to meet certain requirements before admission into their fold after a lengthy process to assess the suitability of the students’ results.
Referring to Saidi’s admission in particular, he remarked: “I do not have enough information because I’m only hearing this matter for the first time. We will have to investigate the issue.”
Kuape explained that most of the staff who are in the top echelons of the college were not yet engaged at the time Saidi began his studies until he graduated in 2017. He said most of these staffers only arrived at the facility in 2019, except the head of Midwifery programme Moloinyane Motebang.
Motebang briefly chipped in: “This issue (Saidi’s) has legal implications.”
The college’s quality assurance officer Paul Chakafa detailed that the school runs two programmes of General Nursing and Midwifery. Both programmes offer diplomas to students upon successful completion of study.
It is a requirement that prospective students should have passed the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE), a certificate adopted from the formerly known Cambridge Overseas School Certificate.
Such LGCSE students, explained Chakafa, should have passed at least six subjects. Four of them should be passed in credits as a minimum. They include either Physics, Chemistry or Biology while in English and Mathematics such learners should have obtained D or better in both subjects.
According to Chakafa those wishing to enroll as nursing assistants should hold a certificate in nursing and have passed five subjects in LGCSE together with a two-year work experience.
For Midwifery, Chakafa clearly continued that a learner should have passed General Nursing which is a three-year course and be registered with the Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC). The study takes a year.
“But the issue of Saidi happened years before we arrived here. The school does not compromise when it comes to quality assurance.
“We strengthened the policy when we arrived. When someone applies, we make a shortlist as part of transparency. There are committees established to work on admissions by assessing applications to note whether each applicant qualifies or not. We then trim the shortlist.
“After the committee’s selection the names are given to the academic committee which then hands them to the college management. The final list is handed to ECOL (The Examinations Council of Lesotho) for validation of examination records. So no learner would be here without going through that process.,” Chakafa enthused.
When contacted for comment, the ECOL chief executive officer Mokhitli Khoabane said he was not aware of the allegations around Saidi’s academic records, and advised this scribe to request the college to send him the documents in file in order to enable ECoL to compare.
It came to the attention of this publication through its sources that the Maluti Adventist Nursing Council did send the records to ECOL boss Khoabane, who confirmed receipt.
However, he could not divulge the details of his discoveries, insisting the journalist has no right to be in possession of the record as it was not his.
Upon persuasion by this paper, Khoabane instead asked for further clarity on the fraud allegation being labelled against Saidi.
“This even before I start my investigation to avoid victimising people who may not even be aware of on-going investigations. I did mention to you that I cannot disclose anything unless there is a court order or police request… I have to protect every client record in order to ensure that people are treated fairly and that their privacy is respected,” Khoabane reacted.
He continued: “I hope you understand I am also required by law to guard against qualifications fraud, but I should not discriminate and perpetuate frictions which may lead to misuse of personal information.”
Despite this, an internal source at the ECOL said the academic results were indeed forged as “they were different from those submitted to the college by Saidi.”
Talking on condition of anonymity, the source unflinchingly confirmed that the results in question were fraudulent.
“The documents in the file at college are fraudulent as they do not match what ECOL has in its records. ECOL is likely to open a fraud/forgery case with the police. How could this have happened?” the source wondered.
For his part, Saidi when approached for comment on Wednesday this week, said he was not aware of the investigators against him, or that EcoL laid a complaint against his alleged.