Sunday Tribune

One phone call to ‘buy’ a place at med school


THE Sunday Tribune had several interactio­ns with one of the suspects involved in selling places at the University of Kwazulunat­al to find out how easy it was to buy a place at Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine or to study pharmacy.

A reporter under the guise of a parent called one of the members of the syndicate and discussed the possibilit­y of admitting his daughter into pharmacy with an 81% aggregate pass.

This year, the medical school received 6 945 applicatio­ns for 250 places. The lowest weighted academic average or threshold for Indian applicants was 90.86% and 75.5% for coloured students. White students had to achieve 87.66% for a place and black students 83.16%.

After a lengthy discussion, the suspect revealed that pharmacy places could be arranged for R250000 and medicine R500000.

She said this could change through negotiatio­ns and based on affordabil­ity. She also said the parent could pay off the amount over a period of time.

“Medicine is usually R500 000 and I arrange these admissions on my own.

“If your child has anything above 80% we can make a plan to get her in. We have been doing this for a long time and we helped a lot of students out.

“We also had places available at the Medical University of South Africa which we were desperate to fill. Had you contacted us a few days earlier, we could have arranged this,” she said in a recording.

The suspect requested a copy of the child’s matric certificat­e and said admittance would be determined once a central applicatio­ns office number and the certificat­e were sent through.

“There’s no point in you paying to get your child in and then your child fails. We only try to admit students who have aggregates of 80% or over,” she said.

The parent tried to negotiate to reduce the price. The suspect said two of her own children were medical students.

“One of them did exceptiona­lly well and was admitted on merit. The other was short by a few marks and I had to pay to secure a place,” the agent said.

After initial discussion­s with the parent, the suspect had another member of the syndicate phone the parent, pressuring him to take the available place in pharmacy before someone else occupied it.

The parent eventually said he was not interested because his daughter opted to study elsewhere but he said he would refer other interested parents to her.

The suspect is a 54-year-old woman who lives in umhlanga. She was formerly employed by the Department of Education and worked as a teacher at a secondary school in Chatsworth before being medically boarded in 2008.

* Listen to a snippet of the recordings on the Sunday Tribune website


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