Thabi Leoka resigns from Amplats board amidst fake PhD allegations

Economist Thabi Leoka

Thabi Leoka has resigned from the board of Anglo American Platinum amidst allegations that she lied about obtaining a PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Amplats informed shareholders via a SENS announcement this afternoon that, on her request, Leoka resigned from her position as a non-executive director of the company.

Consequently, she will also step down from the Amplats board committees she serves on with immediate effect.

The company said she decided to resign to “attend to her health and the questions she has been facing about her academic qualifications”.

This comes after Business Day reported that Leoka, who serves on the boards of several companies, including Amplats and MTN SA, allegedly does not hold a PhD in economics from LSE as she claims.

The publication reported that this misrepresentation led to Joahnn Rupert-owned Remgro withdrawing her appointment before its AGM in December 2023 – just a few months after her appointment in March of that year.

When Leoka first joined Remgro in March, her position was announced on SENS as follows – “The Board of directors of Remgro has approved the appointment of Dr Thabi Leoka as an independent non-executive director of Remgro with effect from the close of business on 22 March 2023.”

“Dr Leoka has considerable experience in the areas of finance and has a passion for emerging markets and African

“She obtained her PhD and MSc in Economics from the London School of Economics and also holds an MA in Economic Development and International Trade and a BA in Social Science from Wits University.”

However, on 4 December, Remgro announced on SENS that the appointment of Leoka was withdrawn. Notably, they dropped the Dr from her name.

“The appointment of director Thabi Leoka was withdrawn at the AGM and therefore not voted on, as the director has advised the Board that she is no longer available to serve as an independent non-executive director of the Company”.

A Remgro spokesperson told Business Day that Leoka would best address any allegations relating to her qualifications.

An LSE spokesperson said Leoka had not obtained a PhD from the university. “We have checked our files and can find no record of Thabi Leoka being awarded a PhD from LSE,” the spokesperson said.

Leoka has also served on the board of private healthcare group Netcare and, in 2019, was appointed to the presidential economic advisory council and the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation. 

Leoka maintained that the allegation that she does not have a PhD from LSE is unfounded. She also provided an LSE PhD degree document to News24.

She maintained she did obtain the degree from a world-renowned institution. Leoka has repeated these claims in a radio interview with 702.

MTN South Africa has yet to release a statement addressing these allegations, and Leoka still serves on the company’s board.

The SENS announcement on Leoka’s resignation is the first time Amplats has addressed the claims against her.