Allegations against Fraser ‘not only false, but also vindictive’, says his lawyer

Former prisons boss Arthur Fraser’s attorney Eric Mabuza has released a statement lambasting investigative journalist and author Jacques Pauw’s City Press article titled Oh dear, Mr Fraser, you lied! where he (Pauw) made scathing allegations about Fraser’s qualifications.

This just days after News24 published an article questioning Fraser’s alleged hold over the State Security urgency (SSA), after it ordered Pauw to hand over copies of “classified state security documents” which he used in his book, The President’s Keepers.

Last year, Fraser wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa and acting director-general of the SSA Tony ‘Gab’ Msimanga advising them of Pauw’s possession of classified documents.

Last Monday, Pauw and his attorney Willem de Klerk returned the documents and slammed the SSA of the lack of transparency.

Qualification fabrication

On Sunday, Pauw wrote that during his investigation for the follow-up book of The President’s keepers, he found that Fraser never set foot in the University of London.

He went on to say that the institution does not offer a course in film and video production.

He said that he sent questions to correctional services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo during the investigation in 2020, but never got answers to his query.

“In the 2000s, I befriended a British journalist who had since then gone into academia. He confirmed to me that no foreign student by the name of Arthur Joseph Peter Fraser had ever studied at the University of London,” wrote Pauw.

“This week, News24 emailed Fraser’s attorney Eric Mabuza … a set of questions, asking him to provide evidence of his qualification and explain the changes to his CV. We asked him if he has maintained throughout his civil service career that he obtained a BA (Hons) degree from London University? Or was it the “London Institute”? We also wanted to know if he had provided verified degree certificates to the various state departments, including the SSA, where he required the highest security clearance.

“Unless Fraser can produce an authenticated degree certificate from an institution of higher learning that no one has ever heard about, he will join this odious bunch of the list of south prominent South Africans who have fudged their qualifications.”

Lies, lies and more lies

On Monday, Mabuza said that his client did not owe Pauw an explanation and accused him (Pauw) of penning the article only to deflect attention from his unlawful conduct.

“For the record, these allegations are not only false, but also vindictive,” said Mabuza.

“They are a fabrication designed to retaliate for breach of the law wherein he was recently found by the SSA to be in unlawful possession of state documents.”

Mabuza said that there was a reason why the government, including the Cabinet would have had to satisfy itself about Fraser’s bona fides and qualifications.

“It is therefore preposterous, and shameful for Mr Pauw and the City Press to suggest that Mr Fraser does not have the qualifications that are recorded in his official CV.”

Mabuza in the statement attached a confirmation letter by the University of the Arts London, saying his client completed a (BA) Honours in film and television back in 1995.

He said that any member of the public was free to contact the university registrar for verification of the qualification.

The dispute

Pauw said that during his investigation, he could not find the ‘London Institute’ in a list of all 18 universities in London.

“The British Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) doesn’t name a London Institute. Neither does the Study-UK British Council or the UK Council for International Student Affairs. There is a London Film Institute, but it doesn’t offer university degrees and doesn’t even have a website. There are 18 universities in London, and the London Institute is not one of them,” said Pauw.

However, the letter from the university, signed by the registrar Stephen Marshall, says: “The London Institute received university status from the privy council and was inaugurated as University of London in May 2004.

“Therefore It is no longer possible to replace or amend London institute degrees, diploma of higher education or certificates of higher education…

“I hereby confirm that Arthur succesfully completed the Bachelor of Arts )BA) Honours Film and Television and was awarded and ‘upper second class Honours (2.1) by the examination board held on 30 June 1995. Certificate number 13870 was issued to reflect this archievement,” reads the letter.

Fraser served as the department of correctional services commissioner until 2021 when his contract expired.

He had been State Security Agency (SSA) director-general before he was transferred to correctional services in 2018, following damning corruption allegations against him in the running of the domestic intelligence services branch.

Last year, he revealed that he overruled the parole board’s decision and signed off former President Jacob Zuma’s release from KwaZulu-Natal’s Escort Prison on medical grounds.

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