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Agriculture department warns of bogus learnership

Mpumalanga’s department of agriculture, rural development and environmental affairs has warned the public of a bogus learnership programme notice that demands a R1500 payment.

In a statement issued by the departmental spokesperson, Bheki Nyathikazi, he said a poster purported to be from his department, has been circulating on social media on the fake learnership programme.

Titled “Announcement Jan 2019” the poorly designed poster does not bear any of the symbols of government, but is purported to be from the “Dept of Agriculture”.

There’s also an invisible stamp on the poster, making it difficult to understand if it’s from any government institution.It states that the requirement for participation in the learnership is an “agricultural science subject in Grade 10-12 or any qualification in agricultural science” and promises a R5500 stipend.

Learnerships were introduced in South Africa to help people with matric to gain theoretical and practical training in the workplace while earning money.The programmes are offered by an accredited learnership provider for free.Departmental head, Lucky Monareng, warned that government does not require of the public to pay money to access opportunities.

“It has come to our attention that some of the potential victims have been told to pay an amount of R1500,00 to guarantee their placement in the Learnership programme. Such a request for payment has no basis because no amount of money is needed to qualify for any placement in a government programme, or position. This is pure criminality, committed by people who prey on our desperate unemployed youth, in particular”, said Monareng.

Nyathikazi told The New Era that they were unaware of the scam and only started the investigation after they were alerted by the public.

“People started becoming suspicious when they called the number that was on the poster, they were told to pay R1500. They then informed the department and we immediately investigated the matter. When we called the number, and told the person on the other side that we were from the department of agriculture, rural development and environmental affairs, he dropped the phone, and it has been off ever since,” said Nyathikazi.

When The New Era called the number, it was off the entire Tuesday, it was still off, while the second number went on voice mail that the number was not available on the MTN network.It is not the first time that the department falls prey to scammers.

Last year a similar incident occurred shortly after the department had advertised for learnerships. While that was a legitimate project by the department, departmental officials were shocked to discover that those who had been shortlisted were asked to pay an undisclosed amount of money, leading to fears that it could have been an “inside job”.

The department said it was unaware whether there have been people who may have made any payment. They also warned the public to be on the alert and not pay any money in return for opportunities in government.

“We are not sure yet how many people have fallen victim to this, but as a department, we categorically state that the poster is a scam, and people should be on high alert and refrain from paying any amount of money towards dubious adverts such as this one”, concluded Monareng.

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