By Sinothando Siyolo
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.
Reports of unethical conduct at the University of Cape Town’s whistle-blowing hotline – a service where UCT students and staff members can report fraud, corruption, and unethical practices around campus – more than doubled last year, according to an announcement from university registrar Royston Pillay.
The hotline, which is confidential and anonymous, was created in 2010 to give students the opportunity to report fraud and corruption. In 2017, there were 18 cases reported; that number has dramatically increased in 2018, with the number of cases received being 37.
Two factors may have played a role in the increased number of reports. One explanation would be increased advocacy, led by the “Speak Up Now” campaign, in which posters were hung around all campuses with the hotline number and a list of things that one can report. This campaign encouraged students and staff to report unethical conduct around the institution and made them aware of the existence of the hotline.
A second factor may have been the change of the service providers that are responsible for the UCT hotline. In December 2017, Pillay announced the appointment of a new service provider, Whistle-Blowers Inc., which replaced KPMG, the former provider of the UCT hotline. Whistle-Blowers Inc. has been responsible for the UCT hotline from December 2017 until today. This decision came after the Risk Management Committee decided that an independent service provider was needed to ensure staff and student anonymity and safety.
The number of cases that were legitimate and the number of cases that are still undergoing investigation were not mentioned in Pillay’s announcement.