Misrepresenting your qualifications can land you in jail

20 Dec 2019


It is quite common in both public and private sectors that one finds South Africans misrepresenting their qualifications and employment history in their CVs or on social media to obtain an employment appointment advantage. In order to do away with this immoral practice, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently signed into law the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act (the Act”).

The Act seeks to weed out, name and shame bogus institutions and people with fake qualifications. Both the operators of these institutions and people that act mala fide and are fully aware of their fake qualifications, will be prosecuted.

Overview of the Act

In terms of the Act, “A person is guilty of an offence, if such person falsely or fraudulently claims to be holding a qualification or part-qualification registered on the NQF or awarded by an education institution, skills development provider, QC or obtained from a lawfully recognised foreign institution.[1]

A person who is found guilty of such an offence, will be liable for a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or to both a fine and such imprisonment. [2] Additionally, if the wrongdoer is an employee, he/she might likely be charged and dismissed for misrepresentation/dishonesty.

However, a clear line must be drawn between persons that lie about their qualifications and the ones that have gone to bogus institutions and did their qualifications in good faith. The latter can raise a defence to avoid prosecution or lead to an acquittal.

It is totally fraudulent for an employee to earn a salary while knowing very well they would not have received if they have not misrepresented their qualifications. Employers appoint employees on the basis and belief that the appointed person holds a certain qualification and believe that they will be competent to operate as someone with that qualification.


This Act serves as a warning to people and institutions that misrepresent their qualifications that they will no longer get a slap on the wrist for this practice which is now punishable by law. This will thwart the intended institutions or employers from appointing specific persons under a false pretext.

Employers and education institutions also have a vested duty to verify the qualifications of such persons and the registration of the institutions. The verification will be conducted by the South African Qualifications Authority at a prescribed fee.

[1] Section 32B(3) of the Act.

[2] Section 32B(6) of the Act.

See also: Transparency and vetting combats procurement fraud

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Petrus Khumalo

Petrus Khumalo obtained his LLB degree from the University of Pretoria in 2016. Petrus joined Lesole Mokgatle Attorneys in Pretoria as a Candidate Attorney in March 2017. He gained extensive... Read more about Petrus Khumalo

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

Mrs Nicolene Schoeman – Louw founded the firm in 2007, aged 24, and is now the Managing Director of the firm. Nicolene is an admitted Attorney of the High Court... Read more about Nicolene Schoeman-Louw


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