Principal anti-corruption officer at the ministry of Lands and Housing, Tshephang Mabaila, was allegedly employed allegedly with a degree from University of Belford, a discredited institution that has been accused of selling online degree certificates.
Now nobody wants to account as to how a former junior Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officer was employed at the ministry.
Mmegi investigations revealed that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have previously investigated the appointment of Mabaila, who is also the founder of Mabaila Foundation.
His appointment, based on his University of Belford qualifications, raised concerns with colleagues who claimed that he does not have the necessary qualifications and work experience for his current position. He worked at the BDF for close to seven years before resigning in 2012.
A year after quitting the army and establishing the foundation, Mabaila joined the public service. Mabaila Foundation has been donating blankets and fruit trees to the elderly every year since 2013. This year he donated 50 blankets and 10 fruit trees to the poverty eradication appeal under the Office of the President.
Mabaila lives a lavish lifestyle, owning the latest Mercedes Benz C-Class with a house in Mogoditshane. In a previous interview with Mmegi, Mabaila was evasive about how he was making his money. I was saving a lot during my army days.
Reached for comment Boikaego Nwako, employee relations’ officer at the ministry, confirmed that Mabaila is an employee of the Ministry of Lands and Housing. However Nwako refused to comment further about Mabaila’s qualification, and stated that such information was “personal.”
“Mabaila is an employee of the Ministry of Lands and Housing. However you are advised that anything of a personal nature about the officer should be directed to him,” said Nwako.
Twenty-seven-year-old Mabaila claims that he was awarded a degree in psychology by Belford University – an institution that has since shut down after it was exposed for offering fake degree certificates for a fee online.
On August 31, 2012 the United States District Court Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division, found that Belford University was a fake school with fake accreditation, a fake faculty and administration operated by Pakistani businessman Salem Kureshi.
According to a New York Times investigation, Belford University was owned by a Parkistani company called Axact and at one point appeared to have offices in Karachi.
The Court ordered that Salem Kureshi and his companies Belford High School and Belford University pay $22.7 million in damages arising from a class-action lawsuit.
According to Mabaila’s Linkedin’s profile, he was a student at the university from 2006 to 2009. He says in his profile that he completed his degree when he was still a junior army officer with the Botswana Defence Force, “…Learning as a distance learner student I didn’t have an opportunity to interact with the students and lecturers from the university (sic).” The Linkedin account reflects that Mabaila only has a single qualification, that being from Belford.
The New York Times article states that Axact had created hundreds of virtual schools, colleges, and accreditation agencies that only exist on the Internet that will issue almost any diploma or degree for a price.
High school diplomas, undergraduate and graduate degrees including PhD and medical credentials are all available for little or no study. In an interview with New York Times, one former employee said, our punch line was that we used to give customers a degree in 10 to 15 days.
Yesterday Mabaila ignored Mmegi’s efforts to seek clarity. Initially Mabaila had agreed to talk to Mmegi at 15:30 but when attempts were made to talk to him he did not answer. Several messages were sent to him through his email and Whatsapp message system but he did not respond.