Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) and the United States embassy in Harare yesterday unearthed a scam in which some people fraudulently acquired educational certificates in a bid to get visas to the US.
It has since been confirmed that 30 out of 40 “O” and “A” Level certificates recently submitted to the US embassy were fake.
The Herald yesterday witnessed some of the culprits being arrested outside the US embassy where some applicants were being interviewed.
Among those nabbed was Rangarirayi Lloyd Mugwara, who was accused of forging Zimsec Ordinary and Advanced Level certificates.
According to information gathered by The Herald, only six out of 30 culprits who had applied for the visas and were supposed to be interviewed by the US embassy turned up for the interviews yesterday.
Zimsec public relations manager Ms Nicky Dhlamini said the development was worrisome.
“It is worrisome if people are going to get into certain occupations with fraudulent certificates,” she said.
“Are they saying they really know what they are doing? Are they saying they will be able to do what their qualifications reveal?
“No one would want to be treated by a doctor who does not know what paracetamol is for. So, I think we need to look at it holistically, it is not about ‘O’ and ‘A’ level only, it is about the nation as a whole to say, what are we as a nation going to do about it?
“Are we going to alert the younger generation on what it means when you say you are cheating an examination or you are having a fraudulent certificate?”
Ms Dhlamini said they were alerted by the US embassy after it had sent them some certificates for verification.
“The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council provides service which is called the verification of results or otherwise known as the confirmation of results and today (yesterday) we were alerted that there were some certificates that were submitted to the United States Embassy for visa application and the certificates after going through the process of verification were discovered to be forgeries,” she said.
“We will take the culprits to the police station and they get charged with fraud. We are assuming that the court process will then happen and hopefully we will be able to catch the culprit who is actually doing this (producing the certificates).”
Ms Dhlamini said it was too early to ascertain whether or not Zimsec employees were implicated in the scam,
“We have not been able to speak to the perpetrators, so we are not sure where they are getting the certificates from, but like I said earlier, we have known for some time that there are people who are doing it, but it just had not reached the extent to which they are brave enough to go to such authorities or to such organisations and try and use them,” she said.
Ms Dhlamini said Zimsec had in the past dealt with similar cases, but by then the culprits turned out to be minors which made it difficult for them to have the matters dealt with.
Police would not immediately comment over the arrests last night.