- Timothy Dunn, an attorney in the River Club dispute, does not have the master’s degree he claims to have
The lawyer who brought a case to the High Court which accused a First Nations leader opposed to the controversial R4,6-billion Amazon development at the River Club of fraud, has misrepresented his own qualifications to the public.
Attorney Timothy Dunn claims on his LinkedIn profile, which acts as a publicly available curriculum vitae for potential clients, that he has a Masters in Laws (LLM) from the University of Cape Town obtained in 2016. The university’s badge is displayed above this claim. However, the university has no record of Dunn’s degree. A search on their public access portal, where anyone can search for an alumni’s degree so long as they have their name, surname, and date of birth (in Dunn’s case obtained from publicly available court documents), reveals no such qualification for Dunn.
For a third party to obtain more detailed results on a past or present students’ academic records, written consent or power of attorney is required. However, a source within the university confirmed Dunn had registered for a Master’s degree and completed his coursework, but as he never completed his dissertation, he does not have a master’s degree.
This has been confirmed by Dunn who, in response to questions, said he has “half the masters” but never completed the required thesis.
“I am not at all active on LinkedIn and I last updated my linkedin profile in 2016 when I was doing the masters courses and part of the never finished thesis as my practice was taking too much time,” was Dunn’s explanation.
He added: “I do not use LinkedIn for any purpose and have never done so.”
However, misrepresenting your qualifications on social media is a criminal offence in terms of the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Act 12 of 2019, with a possible jail term of up to five years.
Associate at Tomlinson Mguni James Attorneys, Nombuso Zama, states in an article on the firm’s website: “The new law does not just limit the offence to lying on a job application, but has extended it to lying on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.”
Zama, when called for further information, said misrepresentation on LinkedIn has since been quoted in a labour case in which the person misrepresented themselves as having a driving licence. She said it is unlawful to post a qualification you don’t have, and in the case of a legal practitioner, it also contravened the Legal Practice Council’s code of conduct.
A number of politicians and senior executives, mostly in government parastatals, have since been caught making false claims about their qualifications.
Dunn’s involvement in the River Club development
Last month Mother City News reported that the founder of Krotoa of the Goringhaicona, an organisation which favoured the development of the Amazon development at the River Club, blew the whistle on how he helped the developers target Tauriq Jenkins, the Supreme High Commissioner of the Goringhaicona Khoi Khoin Indigenous Traditional Council (GKKITC) which opposed the development.
The Krotoa founder Ebrahim Abrahams provided an affidavit to Jenkins stating a Krotoa splinter group convinced the court Jenkins, who led the GKKITC in litigation against the River Club development, was not elected to his position, nor did he have a mandate to litigate on the GKKITC’s behalf. They did so by claiming they were in fact the legitimate GKKITC. Three other people have also submitted affidavits backing Abrahams’s claims.
The attorney who represented what Abrahams claims to be the Krotoa splinter group, was Timothy Dunn. The Krotoa splinter group, represented by Dunn, convince the High Court Jenkins was a fraud and had no standing to litigate against the development on their behalf.
This was despite the GKKITC, led by Jenkins, having opposed the development in its current form since 2016 when the landowners, Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust made known their intention to develop the 14.7 hectare site they bought from Transnet in 2015 for R12-million. Transnet had used the land as a recreational centre with a nine-hole golf course, which the property developers continued to run until shortly after the City of Cape Town gave it the go-ahead to develop in September 2020.
A version of this story is published on GroundUp