Top Marks for Senior Students in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice

Top Marks for Senior Students in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice
Ms Anastacia Pargoolall, Ms Lorato Kegakilwe-Piki, Mr Phumulani Bhengu and Advocate Jabulani Mhlongo.

Four students in the 2022 cohort of the Postgraduate Diploma in Forensic Investigation and Criminal Justice (PDFICJ) Programme graduated with distinctions despite being senior students with heavy responsibilities in their respective portfolios. 

One of the top achievers in the class of 2022 was Ms Lorato Kegakilwe-Piki, deputy head of development engineering at eThekwini Municipality. This married mother of four sons and grandmother to three boys is a Civil Engineer and Project Manager with extensive experience in the built environment and government administration. 

As a leader concerned about corruption and fraud in the built environment she empowered herself by enrolling for the PDFICJ. She said: ‘Corruption and fraud are diseases that can be cured if the country is serious about putting the poorest of the poor first. This qualification will assist me to deal with corrupt activities.’ She is confident that her newly acquired qualification has equipped her with the tools and knowledge to fight corruption in the built environment. 

Kegakilwe-Piki said that her achievement would not have been possible without her family, ‘I’m fortunate to have a supportive family structure as my husband and kids love studying and they kept on encouraging me to work hard,’ she added. 

Another top achiever was Mr Phumulani Bhengu, an LLB alumnus of UKZN and acting regional magistrate in Ngwelezane. The married father of six children from Imbali township near Pietermaritzburg was admitted as an attorney in the year 2000. 

As a regional magistrate, Bhengu is responsible for serious criminal cases which include rapes, murders, armed robberies and other related matters. He also assists in the regional civil courts with civil matters and divorces when required. 

Commenting on the value of the PDFICJ he said: ‘This qualification has helped me immensely in terms of adapting to courts since they require much in-depth knowledge of the law and are very demanding in terms of time. It helped that I was sleeping very late almost every day whilst I was still studying for the course so I easily adapted to the demands of the regional court. 

Admitted advocate of the High Court of South Africa, Jabulani Mhlongo (59) also bagged a distinction for the PDFICJ! 

Mhlongo is the deputy chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Municipal Bid Tribunal where he deals with appeals regarding the bids awarded by municipalities. On a regular basis, he serves in various municipality’s audit committees and municipal disciplinary boards. With his teams, they conduct investigation in order to determine whether municipal officials caused unauthorised, irregular, fruitless or wasteful expenditure. Therefore, the PDFICJ will enhance his investigative skills especially in cases that are required in municipalities in terms of section 171 of the Municipal Finance Management Act. 

Proud of his achievements he said: ‘I have put an enormous amount of time into dealing with my studies and have taken my studies very seriously. I have made sure to attend all lectures and that I rerun the ones that I missed. I really enjoyed my studies at UKZN as they add value to my job responsibilities.’ 

Johannesburg based assistant group legal counsel at Clientéle, Ms Anastacia Pargoolall also passed the PDFICJ with distinction!  

Having practised Law for eight years in Durban and exposure to forensic investigation is what piqued an interest for Pargoolall to venture into a different and unique field of the law, hence, she enrolled into the Programme. She said: ‘Forensic Investigation is a field that has untapped potential and provides many opportunities, given that not many people choose this career path and our field of law becoming very saturated, I wanted to take a different approach and not just be your ordinary everyday attorney.’ 

Elated about her outstanding achievement, Pargoolall says finding a balance between work and studying was key to her success. 

The PDFICJ is a two-year programme offered by the Centre for Extended Legal Studies in the School of Law, UKZN. The programme provides working professionals (not necessarily accountants or lawyers) with the knowledge and skills necessary to specialise in the field of forensic investigative auditing – a specialised branch of forensic investigation, which uses intelligence-gathering techniques, together with accounting, legal and communication skills, to investigate and provide evidence of crimes of a financial or commercial nature.  

Words: Hazel Langa

Photographs: Abhi Indrarajan and Supplied

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