3000 students at fake med school

AT LEAST 3000 students studying at a bogus medical school in Durban have surprised police by siding with the college's founder, who has conned them out of more than R6000 each and a medical qualification.

The Ellesi World of Wellness students have been living in tents without proper sanitation facilities or running water at Emtshebheni Inanda township, north of Durban. They are refusing to move from the area or cooperate with police in an investigation against the college's owner, Simphiwe Zondo.

According to residents the college has existed for two years under the radar of the Department of Higher Education because "few" students had enrolled.

But, since the start of this year 3000 students, mostly from Richard's Bay, Vryheid, Ngwavuma and Eastern Cape, have been living in tents because the bogus school lacks basic services such as electricity.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge confirmed yesterday that the college was under investigation and added that the students were hostile.

"The college offers medical courses varying from three to seven years and students pay R6000 annually. It lacks resources such as water and students are harassing nearby residents for water and toilet usage.

"They are also hostile and no one should go there unaccompanied by police."

Resident Thulani Mbongwa said that at first he had sympathised with the students but grew tired of their daily demands.

"Things were better during summer, now I am getting requests for hot water and electricity.

"Students come from across the province and it is unfair what is happening to them," he said.

Mdunge said neighbours, who are afraid of the students and appalled at their living conditions, had approached the police, who in turn sent a report to the senior public prosecutor to charge Zondo and evict the students.

"The prosecutor's decision will be determined by a report by government departments, who are expected to visit the college.

"The fact that students are living on open land is a health hazard. If the state allows police to investigate, the owner will face charges ranging from fraud to tax evasion," he said.

Mdunge said Zondo told police that he was offering his "services to the students for free".

Police investigations showed that Zondo had no medical qualifications.

Zondo yesterday refused to comment. "Call me in two days," he said.

The Department of Higher Education was unavailable for comment.

Mdunge also said police had opened an inquest docket last year after two students died at the college when a wall built for bathing privacy collapsed on them.

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