Second update on the UCT whistle-blowing hotline
The (UCT) KPMG Ethics Hotline is a simple, yet highly effective tool that allows concerned university employees, students and third parties (whistle-blowers) to report unethical and sometimes corrupt practices at the university. The hotline started operating in January 2015 and since then a number of cases have been reported and investigations launched with some resulting in disciplinary enquiries and sanctions where necessary.
The labour unions have supported the process and referred a number of cases for investigation. Confidentiality and anonymity are guaranteed and no one is compelled to disclose their identity, so there is no risk to the caller.
The hotline service operates on a 24-hour basis with live interviewing of callers who wish to report incidents of unethical conduct, fraud and corruption.
Transcripts and recordings are not made available to UCT. The hotline makes sure that callers wishing to remain anonymous can be guaranteed anonymity. Depending on the nature of the allegations, it can take up to 6 weeks for a matter to be concluded, especially where disciplinary action follows. It is important for all callers to allow for sufficient time to ensure that the allegations made are thoroughly investigated before follow ups are made to the hotline. The complexity of some allegations/matters could result in the investigation taking longer than 6 weeks.
- An official who allegedly abused his position while in the employ of another university.
This matter could not be investigated as it related to allegations committed before the official joined UCT.
- Allegations relating to some of the shuttle buses operating without valid certificates.
It was established after an investigation that some of the buses did not have valid permits. The service provider was penalised as per the contract and UCT’s Fleet Manager was given the task of ensuring that all buses in operation have valid certificates.
- Allegations relating to the quality of some courses offered by one of the universities.
It was established that this allegation related to another university and was therefore passed on to the university concerned. UCT is not privy to the outcome of the investigation.
- An allegation that a supplier was paid prior to all goods procured being delivered.
Following an investigation it was determined that the allegation was true and the officials concerned faced a disciplinary enquiry and were given final written warnings.
- Allegations relating to fraud and misappropriation of university funds.
Following an investigation it was established that no funds were misappropriated, however the official concerned had allowed for his/her purchasing card to be used by other employees for official purposes. The official is to ensure that he/she complies with the policy and a recommendation was made that another purchasing card be issued for the department so at to ensure that the official in question does not have to provide his/her card to other employees when he/she is absent from work.
- An official was alleged to be conducting his/her business at the university and therefore abusing university resources for personal gain.
Following an investigation, it was established that the line manager had been made aware that the official does on occasion meet with external stakeholders at his/her office but no university resources are used for personal gain.
- A staff member had used office equipment for personal use.
It was established that the allegations were true, however this was authorised by the line manager on humanitarian grounds. It was made clear to the line manager that university property and equipment are not meant for staff benefits and this should never be repeated.
I trust that by providing these updates staff, students and other interested parties see the importance of the whistle-blowing hotline and make use of it when necessary. Should you require a presentation to be made to your department or identified group, please get in touch with Mr Shai Makgoba, Director: Risk Compliance and Relationship Management (+27 (0)21 650 2754) to arrange for a presentation on how the UCT whistle-blowing hotline operates.