The South African Nursing Council has cancelled all national nursing exams following the discovery of a leak in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.
Council spokesman Hasina Subedar said the two exams written on Monday will have to be rewritten.
The nurses were due to write 13 other papers this month.
"It is unfortunate, but we cannot risk having people qualify when they did not acquire their knowledge in a proper way," Subedar said.
She said the council was told of the leak yesterday while nurses were writing the exams.
"We were told that there were nurses who had [seen] the paper [before the exam]," she said.
This is the second leak of nurses' exam papers in two years. Last year, a truck transporting exam papers to KwaZulu-Natal was hijacked but the council had ample time in which to reset the exams.
But this time, Subedar said, it would not be clear until next week when the nurses would be allowed rewrite the exams.
"We are talking about 13 papers. So it's a big number to retype, distribute and put security measures in place," she said.
It was the council's view that the integrity of the question papers had been compromised while they were being taken to the examination venues.
"The council regrets any inconvenience this might have caused the candidates but it cannot support examinations which have been compromised."
"It was 30 minutes before we were to begin writing that a fax came through to say the exams had been cancelled," said Portia Khambula, a nurse at Brenthurst Clinic.