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SA professor killed by hitman after uncovering PhD fraud at KZN university

By Karabo Ledwaba | Sowetan |

The University of Zululand’s dean of the faculty of arts, professor Gregory Kamwendo, was allegedly killed after he uncovered a fraudulent PhD syndicate at the institution.

Professor Gregory Kamwendo and Professor Thabisile Buthelezi.
Professor Gregory Kamwendo and Professor Thabisile Buthelezi.

Kamwendo was shot dead at his home in Empangeni in May.

Two men, including a lecturer at the same institution, were arrested for his murder at the weekend.

Kamwendo’s colleague, who may not be named until he has appeared in court and pleaded, allegedly hired a hitman for R10 000 to kill the professor because he had uncovered a fraudulent PhD syndicate in the university that involved three members of the academic staff.

A source close to the investigation, who may not be named to protect his identity, said the university was facing a crisis of fraudulent PhD degrees being granted to students and the academic in question had been suspended for the alleged criminal activities.

“The professor was fighting against this corruption. There is a lot of people who have received PhDs through fraud,” said the source.

“They arrested the men late last week. It was a joint operation with the Empangeni tracing team, a detective from Sandton and Bheki Thusi, a private investigator from KwaZulu-Natal,” said the source.

The source said Kamwendo had received death threats before he was killed.

“An employee that was arrested is a professor at the university. He was bitter and telling him that he was going to kill him.

“The professor ended up opening a case of intimidation against him.”

Kamwendo, who was 53, was originally from Malawi and had been at the university since 2016.

Police say he was shot and killed in the driveway of his home. He suffered multiple fatal shots to his upper body.

It has been alleged that the academic in police custody confessed to hiring and paying a hitman to kill Kamwendo.

Col Thembeka Mbhele confirmed that two men were arrested last week.

“On Thursday, November 29 2018, detectives arrested two suspects aged 50 years for murder. They will appear tomorrow [today] in the Empangeni magistrate’s court,” Mbhele said.

When Sowetan called for more details, Captain Nqobile Gwala said police were unable to divulge more information relating to the case because it was at a sensitive stage.

Spokesperson for the university Gcina Nhleko said: “The university is unable to comment on the arrest of two suspects and its related matters as we are not aware of this development.”