Cape Town - The DA and ActionSA have lodged complaints at the police against Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande following an investigative report by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) implicating the minister and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Board chairperson Ernest Khosa in alleged tender corruption.
The Outa report released on Thursday, follows leaked voice recordings of two separate meetings held between Khosa, the husband of one Coinvest director Thula Ntumba, and another unknown person.
Coinvest was one of four service providers hired to disburse student funds.
According to Outa, the recordings reveal how service providers “allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa, as well as at least R1 million to the SACP.
This was allegedly done “in return for tenders and protection for service providers”.
A Werksmans Attorneys report was released in October.
It found that the appointment of four service providers in charge of disbursing student allowances were irregular.
It recommended that the contracts should be terminated.
The board appointed Werksmans Attorneys to investigate allegations against its CEO Andile Nongogo related to work done with the Services Sector Education and Training Authority and the awarding of bids at NSFAS.
The report found a possible relationship between Nongogo and service providers Coinvest and eZaga Holdings contracted to disburse student funds.
Nzimande described the Outa report as being part of a “nefarious fightback campaign” while the SACP has denied having received funds illegitimately.
DA chief whip Siviwe Gwarube and the party’s spokesperson on Higher Education, Science and Innovation Karabo Khakhau lodged a charge against Nzimande at the Cape Town Central police station, yesterday.
Prior to this, ActionSA had called for Nzimande and Khosa’s immediate resignations.
In a statement, Khakhau said: “Minister Nzimande squandered his opportunity to take the public into his confidence.
“He provided no evidence to contradict Outa’s allegations and assure vulnerable students, who depend on NSFAS, or the public at large that he hasn’t wilfully risked their futures to enrich himself and his comrades.”
Police spokesperson Nowonga Sukwana confirmed that a case of corruption was opened, yesterday morning and that the case is currently under investigation.
Criminal charges were filed by ActionSA National Youth Forum chairperson Hluphi Gafane against Nzimande and Khosa at the Lyttelton police station in Centurion, Gauteng, yesterday.
“The charges relate to the contravention of Section 4 of the Prevention and Combating Of Corrupt Activities Act.
“Specifically, pertaining to the alleged misconduct of the minister and board chairperson, who are accused of receiving kickbacks (payments) from NSFAS-appointed service providers in exchange for lucrative contracts and protection from scrutiny,” ActionSA Youth Forum national spokesperson Matthew George said.
Following the release of the Outa report, the Freedom Front Plus requested an urgent meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation.
“The portfolio committee, which is responsible for holding the minister as well as the department and the entities within the department (such as NSFAS) accountable, clearly has a duty to act in this case,” FF Plus MP and higher education chief spokesperson Dr Wynand Boshoff said in a statement.