A municipal manager of an ANC-run rural municipality in KZN resigned this week amid an investigation into allegations she faked her bachelor’s degree and used it to get a top job paying her over R50 000 a month.
Seeng Mokoena-Brown, the municipal manager of the Ingwe municipality in Bulwer outside Pietermaritzburg, resigned last week after the alleged fraud was discovered.
She was hired earlier this year after submitting a CV claiming she had a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Unisa. A copy of the degree certificate, which was allegedly obtained in 2001, was attached to her application letter. The Mercury is in possession of the copy.
However, it has emerged that she never studied at Unisa and the qualification was fake.
A spokesman for the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lennox Mabaso, said Mokoena-Brown resigned soon after the department started an investigation into her qualifications.
“Following this case, we will start a system to verify qualifications with relevant higher education institutions. The department has a policy that municipal managers should have a bachelor’s degree and five years’ experience in senior management at a municipal level,” Mabaso said.
“Those who would be found to have breached the policy by employing Mokoena-Brown without a relevant qualification would be harshly dealt with,” he said.
However, Mokoena-Brown claimed she only resigned because of ill-health and stress caused by infighting at the municipality. She also denied knowing about the degree and that she had used it to apply for the job.
“After falling ill because of the operation, it became hard for me to continue working. Things were made worse by the internal politics caused by people who disliked me because I put pressure on people to work efficiently.
“I do not know the degree you are talking about. I never studied at Unisa. Someone must have created it and put it on my documents. I should be taking legal action against people who linked me with the degree, but I don’t have money to pay for lawyers,” she said.
She claimed that as the manager of the small municipality she was earning R50 000 per annum.
The Mercury has established that she used the same degree to apply for a deputy manager of corporate services post in the Emadlangeni (Utrecht) municipality, which she secured in 2004. Two years later, she was promoted to director of corporate services.
She said she had a Management and Development in Municipal Finance certificate, which she obtained after a nine-month course at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008.
“This (certificate) qualified me for the position. I also have a number of short-term courses and long experience with municipalities,” she said.
Before being hired as the municipal manager, Mokoena-Brown was the manager for Corporate and Social Development in Ingwe between 2010 and February of this year. She was also an acting manager in the same municipality between October last year and February this year. The local government department found that the municipality only spent 10 percent of its budget in the last financial year.
Her CV also revealed that before joining Ingwe municipality she was the director of Corporate and Community Services in Emadlangeni (Utrecht) Municipality, northern KZN, between 2005 and 2009.
Ingwe municipality mayor Nomagugu Luzulani declined to answer questions about Mokoena-Brown’s qualifications. But she confirmed that she had resigned.
Municipal speaker Winneth Mtolo said Mokoena-Brown was appointed to her positions because she qualified academically. “If there is a problem with her qualification, it is her problem, because as far as we knew she had relevant qualification,” said Mtolo.
Emadlangeni municipal manager Velaphi Kubheka said Mokoena-Brown was employed as the director for corporate services because she had submitted the same degree.
He said if the municipality found the degree was illegal, it would have to report a fraud case to the police. - The Mercury