A whistle-blowing hotline is a simple, yet highly effective management tool designed to enable concerned employees and students, as well as third parties associated with the university to report fraudulent, corrupt and unethical practices in the University. The hotline is sometimes referred to as an ethics or fraud hotline. The hotline will allow for UCT staff, students, suppliers and other interested parties to report fraud, corruption, unethical conduct and misconduct confidentially and anonymously.
2. Why does UCT need a whistle-blowing hotline?
UCT is committed to maintaining a culture of ethical compliance. Given that most cases of fraud at the workplace are perpetrated internally, it is incumbent upon employees and other stakeholders to report any instances of fraud, corruption or misconduct. Many organisations including some of the universities in the country have a whistle-blowing hotline. This is in line with good and responsible corporate governance.
3. What can I report to the hotline?
What to report to the hotline should be any incidents of wrongdoing, including, for instance, criminal offences, theft, fraud, unethical behaviour or misconduct, health and safety violations, irregular awarding of tenders, damage to the environment, financial statement fraud, student financial aid fraud, dishonesty, misuse of property and assets including P-Cards, misuse of donor grants and corruption. This extends to ethics in the academic and research areas, including examinations. The Discrimination and Harassment Office (DISCHO) is available to assist the UCT community in matters of discrimination, sexual harassment, harassment in general, domestic violence and rape. (View DISCHO information on the Staff or Students site.)
4. Who approved UCT's whistle-blowing hotline?
UCT's Whistle-Blowing Guidelines were approved by Council in December 2010. They are intended to protect people at UCT, as well as the operations, assets and the reputation of UCT, against wrongdoing. These guidelines apply to all staff, students, consultants, vendors, contractors, and/or any other parties with a business relationship with the university. The guidelines provided for a whistle-blowing hotline.
5. Who is responsible for running the UCT Hotline?
An external service provider is responsible for the UCT whistle-blowing hotline. Following a competitive bidding process, the University Risk Management Committee appointed an independent service provider for a period of three years to manage the UCT hotline. The hotline has been operational since 01 January 2015.
6. How do I get in touch with the hotline if a have information on corruption and unethical behaviour?
The UCT's hotline number is 0800 650 000 and the call centre operates 24 hours a day and is available for 365 days a year. This is a toll free number if one is phoning from a Telkom landline. Calls are fielded by experienced call centre agents in any of the official languages, as well as French, Dutch, German and Portuguese. All reported information is captured onto a call-sheet and transited directly to a designated person at the university.
7. Does the call centre cater for any languages besides English?
Yes, the call centre has agents that cater for all 11 official South African languages, as well as Dutch, German French and Portuguese.
8. I don't like call centre agents as they can be very annoying!
The independent service provider uses qualified and adequately trained call centre agents who abide by the standards set by EthicsSA. This ensures that they provide the highest quality of professionalism and ask questions that will assist in the investigation.
9. How can UCT protect me if I blow the whistle on corruption and unethical conduct?
Anyone with a reasonable basis for believing that an irregular act has occurred or is occurring has a responsibility to report this immediately. Furthermore, anyone making a report must act in good faith when reporting an allegation, and must disclose all information available to him or her that is relevant to the matter. Whistle-blowers are protected by law.
The Protected Disclosures Act no 26 of 2000 makes provision for procedures in terms of which employees may disclose information anonymously regarding unlawful or irregular conduct by their employers or fellow employees. It is for this reason that all matters reported on the hotline will be referred to the Risk Management Committee to ensure that the necessary investigations have been carried out. Where corruption, fraud and/or abuse of property or assets are proven, the committee will ensure that the necessary action is taken against the perpetrators.
10. How long does it take to investigate matters reported to the hotline?
The investigations will depend on the complexity of the alleged misconduct, so this will vary from case to case. All cases reported to date through the hotline have been concluded. Allow for at least three weeks before making a follow-up call to the hotline.
11. Are there any cases that came through the hotline?
Yes a number of cases have already been reported and some resulted in disciplinary action after an investigation.
12. Can I report my supervisor if I’m not happy with how he/she treats me?
The whistle-blowing hotline is not a channel for reporting employment grievances, general complaints, petty arguments or personality clashes; these must be dealt with in terms of the university’s grievance procedures. The Office of the Ombud (see link on the left) provides a safe and objective environment where individuals can air their concerns, receive appropriate referrals, be advised of relevant policies and procedures, and discuss formal and informal options for addressing these concerns.
13. What kind of information will I be expected to provide?
It is important that when a report is made, relevant details should be available, including:
In which division/department did the incident take place?
Where specifically did it happen?
What is the nature of the incident?
Date and time the incident took place?
How long has this been going on?
How often does this happen?
Number of people involved and names?
Does anybody else know about it?
Do you have any proof that could assist in the investigation?
Are there any witnesses?
Do you have any other relevant information which could be of assistance when undertaking an investigation?
14. Who can I talk to about the UCT hotline to get more information?
Mr Shai Makgoba, Finance Executive: Risk and Relationship Management can be contacted on 021 650 2754. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org