University of South Africa Releases Statement on Paul Ratsara Investigation

The University of South Africa (Unisa) has released a statement in response to questions regarding the investigation into whether Paul Ratsara, former president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists (SID), used a ghostwriter while completing his 2014 Doctor of Theology (DTh) thesis.

A letter began circulating online in early May 2018 from Unisa’s acting registrar, Q. M. Temane, stating that the university’s investigation “revealed that there is no evidence to substantiate the claims that a ‘ghost writer’ wrote the chapters in question” and that Ratsara’s DTh degree is “in good standing.”

The vice president of SID, Hopeson Bonya, had previously confessed to authoring five of the six chapters of the DTh thesis. During the special meeting of the SID Executive Committee held on May 24, 2016 where Bonya confessed, a motion to “register displeasure at the way the doctorate was obtained by Paul Ratsara” was passed, and Ratsara subsequently resigned the presidency.

The conclusion of the two-year investigation by Unisa has reignited questions surrounding the situation. On May 14, 2018, Acting Registrar Temane responded to request for comment verifying the authenticity of the letter that appeared online, and stating that “the matter is considered closed by the University.”

Additionally, Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela responded to follow up questions on May 16, 2018 with the following statement on behalf of the University:

We confirm that the university did engage the services of an independent investigator to investigate the allegations.

We also confirm that part of the investigation involved interviews with both Dr Ratsara and Mr Bonya. The investigation established that Mr Bonya participated only in respect of Chapters 1 and 5 of the thesis and only with regard to the provision of raw data, publications and articles collected on behalf of Dr Ratsara. No evidence was found to substantiate the allegations of a ‘ghost writer’ for five of the six chapters….

The response from Unisa goes on to say that Ratsara’s DTh thesis is available in the Unisa library, though a search of Unisa’s Institutional Repository, the university’s digital archive of theses and dissertations, still yields no results at the time of this writing.

A request for a copy of the university’s investigative report was also denied. The university cited the confidentiality of the report, stating that it “cannot be divulged to third parties without the express permission of the affected parties.”

The full response from Unisa is included below:

Further Reading:

Letter Reignites Controversy Surrounding Paul Ratsara Plagiarism Scandal, May 8, 2018 Allegations of Fraudulent Degrees Raise Questions for General Conference Appointee, April 25, 2016 Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division: Paul Charles "Does Not Possess Any Accredited Qualification”, May 2, 2016 SID Academics, Church Members Write Open Letter to Ted Wilson, May 23, 2016 Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division President Paul Ratsara Offers Resignation Amid Academic Qualifications Scandal, May 25, 2016 Paul Ratsara Steps Down, GC Accepts Resignation as Unisa Begins Investigating Doctorate, May 31, 2016

Alisa Williams is managing editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This response from the University of South Africa to Spectrum and it’s readers serves as a testimony and reminder of why we need open and honest journalism in our midst. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (White House Press Secretary-currently) could perhaps be invited to lecture at the university on Journalistic Integrity and if things continue perhaps her boss could be given an “honorary” humanitarian doctorate Ethics In Governance…but wait a minute, didn’t our leader have his own university declared bankrupt and it’s degrees worthless?


Deafening silence. Unisa’s statement says, in effect, “Paul Ratsara didn’t plagiarize.” Period. And yet, this article is clearly still questioning his integrity by emphasizing all of the former reports. Journalistic integrity? Don’t expect it from Spectrum. This is a clear and resounding slap in your face, Spectrum. Learn from it.


So Pastor Bonya perjured himself. Instead of authoring 5 of 6 chapters, Unisa can only substantiate 2 chapters. Is Pastor Bonya still employed by the SID? Is there a threshold by which SDA employees are held to a standard of morality? Would I be right in assuming that perjury is not a criteria?

Unisa and SID cannot be right at the same time. One is a suspect.


I’m confused. What was Pastor Bonya’s motive for claiming to have written 5 of the 6 chapters of the thesis? Why would someone do such a thing?

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there really is such a thing as false confessions, efcee, occasioned by stress, opportunism, delusions of grandeur, the desire for limelight, and what have you…perhaps bonya should now issue a confession that his previous confession was fraudulent, if anyone is inclined to believe anything he says…

i don’t know how much clearer this case can get…obviously the group of concerned academics who launched the fuss that ousted ratsara have some deep soul-searching to do…but will they do it…my guess is they won’t…

the most charitable interpretation against ratsara is that someone saw or became aware that bonya supplied ratsara with raw data and thought, erroneously, that bonya was actually writing ratsara’s thesis…from there this story snowballed, nothing being checked with ratsara himself, and in an atmosphere of distrust - think the SEDCOM/west rand scandal involving a fraudulent check issued by SAU and TOC - a group of academics saw an opportunity to be superheroes…but actually there’s only one superman, and he doesn’t exist in real life…

this case is now best relegated to the sad collection of vivid demonstrations of what happens when there’s a rush to judgement…


This is not about a rush to judgement but about a paucity of information. You have judged Bonya but on what criteria? What is his idea of authorship? It is conceded that he provided all the data and the referencing for at least 2 of the chapters. That would be considered a criteria for authorship in most scholarly publications.

You must concede that there is a certain desire for justification of their processes by any University. They do not want to be seen to be adding their imprimatur to a fraudulant document. The response to an accusation will either be a swift recognition and acknowledgement of the fraud, a downplaying of the nature of the fraud or a denial of the fraud. Only the last gives full vindication of their processes and in any business will be the favoured response. That they acknowledge that the work was not the work of the author alone is a concession they would appear to have given very reluctantly.

Now we need to see the thesis, the conclusion of the SID investigation and the SID report on womens ordination. I suspect the UNISA response will be more forthcoming than anything we can expect from the Church.


I think Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the other individual of whom you spoke have more in common with the folks here at Spectrum than with UNISA or Paul Ratsara. What comes to mind, with these accusations against Dr. Ratsara, is a statement made by James Carville during the Whitewater investigation involving former President Clinton, when Carville said that “enough dry holes have been dug to make a golf course.”

The same is obviously happening here. Certain folks with an anti-General Conference theological agenda are determined to discredit this man of God, and so it doesn’t matter how many dry holes they dig looking for scandal and finding nothing; they’re just going to keep on digging.

But it won’t work. Lies have a way of being found out. And God has a way of vindicating His own.


Someone maybe doesn’t understand what the question was in the investigation. Did you write it, yes or no. So as it was mentioned, there are two authors to said document, because if one person write five of six chapters, who is the author. We need to see the thesis. Next question, did the church help pay for the doctorate, financial help. If so, and as it has been said, in South Africa the church is governed by corporate law, which means that the church member are “stock holders”, hence by default, that document must be made available because the “stock holder’s” have asked for it. It is called corporate transparency, and we demand it.


20 MARCH 2018
South African Police Service (Pretoria)
South Africa: Hawks Clamp Down On Fraud Syndicate At Unisa Pretoria Campus

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Hopeson Bonya’s confession to ghost-writing five of the six chapters of Paul Ratsara’s thesis is too specific to have been reported inaccurately. And there was plenty of opportunity for Ratsara and Ted Wilson to controvert the confession or whittle down the confession to something approximating what is contained in UNISA’s recent letter and statement. Even after Ratsara resigned, there was plenty of opportunity for Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders to cast him in a better light by clarifying the record. Accordingly, the best reading of the evidence continues to be that Bonya’s confession as initially reported occurred and is true.

What I have wondered is how Bonya could be a SID VP after committing the misconduct he confessed to. How was he able to stay, given that his co-conspirator was forced to resign? My hunch is that Bonya realized the need to revise his confession to UNISA investigators in order to preserve his employment and standing in the SID. But I could be wrong. Perhaps Bonya initially confessed to what UNISA’s recent letter and statement says that he did and that the misconduct on the part of Ratsara was assessed by the SID EXCOM to be egregious enough to warrant Ratsara’s resignation. If that is what occurred, I cannot disagree with that assessment, as UNISA’s recent letter and statement is still disparaging to Ratsara.


From what I’ve read and seen since I re-joined the SDA church in 2009, after 15 years as an ‘apostate’ . . .
I still can’t trust a living Seventh-day Adventist to tell me how to get to Hell, let alone get to Heaven.

And, since a respectable team of SDA PhD-theologians from Andrews University apparently doesn’t believe that sin can be overcome before Jesus comes, anyway . . . . Why should we care who in the SDA church lies, cheats, steals, rapes, is racist, sexist . . . or how they get their DTh ?
Simply ‘chill out’ and enjoy the atonement completed 2,000 years ago . . . .

To loosely paraphrase Samuel Clemens:
SDAs must have a prodigious quantity of mind. They can’t seem to make it up.


So you do not see anything fishy in the story, right? Just a couple of issues to encourage some thinking, or meditation:

  1. Bonya confessed writing 5 of 6 chapters.
  2. UNISA does not appear much transparent or willing to really inform.
  3. Where is the dissertation? Why the misleading saying it’s available to the public, when it actually is not?
  4. Did Bonya perjur himself, telling one thing to the Division people and another to the UNISA people?

Regarding Spectrum, well,… it seems it always bugs people when Spectrum reports news about certain issues. Who would tell uh? This is why it is an independent organization.



I’d wait for the thesis to be made public, and then have it independently analyzed for style against other written content by the two individuals. You might be in for a surprise.

There is also the interesting question, since the thesis was not made public before, of whether the version that might eventually be disclosed is the same as the original. Perhaps a little editing has since occurred??


Elmer, at this point, considering everything that transpired so far, ALL of them ar actually suspects. It’s all way too fishy for one not to wonder what was (is) going on in that part of the globe.

I think that some people may actually be very unhappy that plagiarism is being challenged publicly since historically it has been actually part of the practices in the SDA Church - with no “grave consequences.” :wink:


Kevin Paulson said:
__“The same is obviously happening here. Certain folks with an anti-General Conference theological agenda are determined to discredit this man of God, and so it doesn’t matter how many dry holes they dig looking for scandal and finding nothing; they’re just going to keep on digging.”

Since you seem to understand Golf I will use that game for a response. You can take a “Mulligan” this time for responding to my comment which was directed at the response to Spectrum’s request for information. There was no mention against the “General Conference”, “theological agendas”, or any “man of God”, or even Paul Ratsara . You should have read my comment more carefully. You need less defensiveness and a better aim to develop a consistent shot or routine otherwise you continue to swing blindfolded. Consistency is the ideal virtue in life and in golf. One of the most difficult parts of the game for aspiring players is becoming comfortable enough with your technique to decrease the variation in your shots, like hooks and slices, in order to better focus on strategy. You will then need less mulligans!


I guess that at first he wanted to sound honest in order to get a promotion - which he DID!.
Then he decided to protect Ratsara, his former boss, and told a different story to UNISA, hoping the information would not transpire. But it DID!!
Maybe now he will get another promotion…
The true art of the Deal!!!

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I lament to inform you that he himself told some of his closer friends that he actually wrote “most of it.” And he was basically forced to do it during working hours. And he did out of fear that he could lose his job (you know, being “persecuted” until resignation …)

Sorry Jeremy, but you keep going in circles of denial. The facts should have called your attention already. Will they ever?


Oh Kevin, so you too are in denial of all those “fishy” issues, uh? OMGosh…

What does that mean? A theological agenda against the GC? What is that?


I guess that the best we can do about it is “to sleep on it.” … As TW told Ratsara to do even when the fraud was evident to all!
This story is all :upside_down_face: :upside_down_face: :upside_down_face:

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