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'Fake news' - UJ denies claims student hacked their system to pass modules

UJ has labelled a report about its IT system being hacked as 'fake news'.
UJ has labelled a report about its IT system being hacked as 'fake news'.
Image: Google

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has rubbished reports that one of its students hacked its IT system to give herself and other students distinctions in modules they were failing.

The story, which first appeared online last year on the fake news website Gallant Post, went viral on social media this week.

According to the report, a student named Phindile “edited her marks by accessing the IT panels of the UJ website” to reflect that she and 200 others had passed modules with which they were struggling.

She claimed to have done it because she had lost her bursary, and said her parents could not afford to pay fees for her and a sibling.

In a statement sent to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE, and posted in part on the university's social media platforms, UJ noted the report and said it was fake.

The university said it would take legal action on the matter.

“The University of Johannesburg has noted a report peddling misinformation disguised as real news. The ‘report’ appeared on a ‘news’ parody site on March 5 2020. It states that a person called Phindile, who it claims, “is a student from UJ ... edited her marks by accessing the IT panels of the UJ website and gave herself two distinctions on two modules she had failed many times”.

“The ‘report’ further states that 'Phindile' edited marks for 200 other students and that they have since graduated. The ‘report’ has been circulated on social media and shared multiple times. Sadly, many people have been misled into believing it is real news.

“UJ categorically dismisses this ‘report’ as fake news, devoid of any truth. The university also notes the same report first appeared on June 7 2019. The university is taking legal advice on this matter,” said the university's media liaison officer Herman Esterhuizen.

Many people did not believe UJ and joked that Phindile may have also hacked their social media to post the statement.

They hailed her as “leadership” and called for her to also “fix the problems at Eskom”.

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