Durban restaurateurs who are accused of selling spots to study at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s medical school returned to court today.
Earlier this year accused Varsha, 44, Hitesh Bhatt, 46, and co-accused Preshni Hiraman, 54 were granted R40 000 bail in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on condition that they surrendered their passports, that they do not go to UKZN or leave Durban without the consent of the investigating officer.
The Bhatt’s who run a popular Durban eatery, Little Gujarat, in the Durban CBD face charges of corruption for allegedly selling spaces at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine and other health science places at the university for a fee of between R250 000 and R500 000.
The court session was a brief one as prosecution has requested that the case be adjourned until March next year. The motivation for the request was based on the sheer volume of investigation reports that need to be examined including the UKZN probe that was initiated.
Almost 300 computers were seized in the probe to identify other members of the syndicate which may have been working with other syndicates nationally, new bail terms were applied to the accused trio.
Tune in to Newsbreak Lotus tomorrow morning at 6AM as they unpack the latest news on the case.
The Sunday Tribune reported that the family, which owns the Little Gujarat restaurant in Durban, worked in partnership with a syndicate at the university to enroll students.
According to the newspaper, evidence suggests they also have ties to the Medical University of Southern Africa.
The family charged R250,000 for a position in the health sciences faculty – pharmacy, optometry, and audiology – and R500,000 for a place in medicine.
For an additional R30,000, students could get access to examination question and answer papers, stated the report.
University Staff Probe
Allegations that students were being fraudulently enrolled at the UKZN’s medical school need to be investigated swiftly, the South African Medical Association (Sama) said on Tuesday.
“We are extremely concerned about these allegations and call upon the Ministry of Education to investigate them quickly and effectively,” Chairperson Dr Mzukisi Grootboom said in a statement.
“If any staff members are found to be complicit in these activities, they must be dealt with decisively.”
According to the Sunday Tribune, the three allegedly worked in cahoots with a syndicate at UKZN to fraudulently enrol students in the health science faculty and school of medicine.
Evidence was seized in raids of their Umhlanga and La Lucia homes, as well as at their restaurant, the paper reported.
“The leadership of the university must be held accountable and explain how such a scandalous situation could have occurred in the first place,” Grootboom said.
If the allegations were true, they would cause the institution severe embarrassment.
University Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said the institution’s forensic services unit was working with law enforcement agencies to identify those involved. He anticipated further arrests.