Whistle-blowing hotline

Completed investigations: 2015 – part 2

Second update on the UCT Whistle-Blowing Hotline

The (UCT) KPMG Ethics Hotline is a simple, yet highly effective management tool designed to enable 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. What has been important to this process is the support of all labour unions which have referred a number of cases to the Hotline 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 KPMG fraud hotline service operates on a 24-hour basis with live interviewing of callers who wish to report incidents of unethical conduct, fraud and corruption. The purpose is to provide an opportunity and mechanism to all stakeholders to anonymously report such incidents thereby assisting UCT to deal with them appropriately.

As a general principle, and in line with the anonymity promised by the Hotline, transcripts and recordings are not made available to UCT. KPMG Ethics Line is operated in such a manner as to ensure that the caller wishing to remain anonymous can be guaranteed anonymity and undertakes not to reveal the identity of a caller to the client without the prior consent of the caller. Depending on the nature of the allegations, it can take up to six weeks for a matter to be concluded, especially where disciplinary action follows. It is therefore, 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 six weeks.

Case 1

An official who allegedly abused his position while at the employ of another university

This matter could not be investigated as it related to allegations committed prior to the official being in the employment of UCT.

Case 2

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 tasked to implement an office protocol to ensure that all buses in operation have valid certificates.

Case 3

Allegations relating to the quality of some cases 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. The University is not privy to the outcome of the investigation.

Case 4

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.

Case 5

Allegations relating 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 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 at work.

Case 6

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.

Case 7

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 thereof 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 (021 650 2754) to arrange for a presentation on how the UCT whistle-blowing hotline operates.

Royston Pillay
May 2016