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Indian-Origin Trio arrested for allegedly selling seats to Indian Students to Health Science Courses at University in South Africa

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Johannesburg, May 16, 2017: Three Indian-origin persons were arrested here by police for allegedly selling seats to Indian students to study medicine and other health science courses at a university in South Africa.

Accused Varsha (44) and Hiteshkumar Bhatt (46) are the owners of Durban’s “Little Gujarat” restaurant while Preshni Hiramun (55) is a former school teacher.

The trio is accused of working as agents in conspiring together with a syndicate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa to illegally enrol students in the health science faculty and school of medicine, news portal Independent online reported on Monday.

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The accused chatted to interested parents, negotiated bribes and liaised with university staff who helped get the parents’ children enrolled, according to the report.

This was done even though the students involved did not meet the minimum requirements for the courses. The three suspects allegedly charged R250,000 ($19,000) for admission to the health sciences faculty.

They charged R500,000 ($38,000) for a place in medicine. The reports also said that the trio was involved in the sale of examination question and answer papers for an additional R30,000 ($2,278).

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The trio were charged with fraud and contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and were later granted R40,000 ($3,000) bail each in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Their arrest came after a sting operation was conducted by a weekly newspaper on Sunday.

The elite Hawks Organised Crime Unit raided the homes and businesses of the three accused and arrested them last week. Their passports were confiscated and they have been asked to report to the Durban North Police station once a week.

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Police seized two Mercedes-Benz cars, laptops, hard-drives and flash drives from the Bhatts. At Hiramun’s home in Somerset Park, laptops were found hidden in a washing machine, the report said.

Documents pertaining to the syndicate were also seized, according to the report. The trio was also asked to refrain from contacting any witnesses or staff at UKZN.

Hawks investigator Mandla Mkhwanazi said more arrests were on the cards and that the investigation was at a sensitive stage hence too much information could not be divulged.

The accused will appear in court again in August for the state to prepare its investigation. (IANS)

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A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

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Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

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Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)