Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2007-07-15 Reporter: Noelene Barbeau

Chippy Plagiarism : Prof Puts on Brave Face



Independent Online




Noelene Barbeau

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Professor Sarp Adali, the Turkish-born academic who co-supervised and acted as internal examiner for Chippy Shaik's controversial doctorate thesis, sounded positive after the first few days of his disciplinary hearing this week.

In 2003 Shaik was awarded his doctorate at the then University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal). But he was recently accused of plagiarising his doctoral thesis, which was supervised by Professor Viktor Verijenko, head of the school of mechanical engineering.

It was also claimed that Shaik's 217-page mechanical engineering thesis was fundamentally flawed, with incorrect calculations and spelling errors.

Shortly after the allegations came to light, Adali denied the claims, saying Shaik's thesis was above board, with the majority of its content taken from conference and journal papers Shaik co-authored.

Verijenko, in Australia on sabbatical at the time, has since resigned and Shaik has denied all the allegations.

Shaik was the government's former arms procurement chief, and played a key role in sourcing suppliers for the controversial R65-billion arms deal.

Adali, former head of the school of mechanical engineering and now a senior member of staff, pleaded not guilty to misconduct charges at the hearing this week.

Speaking to the Tribune on Friday, he said the internal hearing had been adjourned to a date still to be set.

Adali and Verijenko are also accused of misconduct in connection with a R2,4-million contract Verijenko was awarded by Spoornet in his private capacity. A lawyer's letter, from the university, has been sent to both.

Adali said Verijenko used and returned university funds and also used about R1-million from Spoornet funds to build a laboratory at the school. A university source claimed Adali had shares in Verijenko's private company, which he denied.

In a separate dispute, the former chief financial officer at UKZN, Prof Kanthan Pillay, said his hearing resumed this weekend and should reach a favourable conclusion.

Pillay was dismissed and reinstated after the findings of the Magid Tribunal. After receiving an anonymous email, the university's vice-chancellor, Prof Malegapuru Makgoba, called for an investigation into the awarding of a Master of Commerce degree to Pillay.

It was alleged that Pillay and the Dean of Management Studies, Prof Pumela Msweli-Mbanga had had an affair. She was the co-supervisor for Pillay's mini-dissertation.

Msweli-Mbanga filed sexual harassment claims against Makgoba and the university's council chairperson, Dr Vincent Maphai - charges found to be baseless. And she took UKZN to the CCMA after it accepted her resignation, which she said she had revoked.

Details of the settlement are still being finalised. Her attorney, Jay Reddy, said the matter was settled in her favour. "The university accepted that her earlier resignation did not hold. She then resigned at the end of June," he said.

This article was originally published on page 4 of Tribune on July 15, 2007

With acknowledgements to Noelene Barbeau and Independent Online.

*1       It is logically challenging to reconcile "sounding positive" and "putting on a brave face".