The Special Investigating Unit is still probing thousands of students who received more than R5 billion in funding but did not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
SIU head of investigations Leonard Lekgetho told members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts there were more than 40,000 students who were given funding, but did not qualify for NSFAS.
Lekgetho said 76 institutions of higher learning were involved in this, and this dates back to 2018.
The head of the SIU, Andy Mothibi, was on Tuesday leading members of his unit to brief Scopa on their investigations into NSFAS.
Mothibi said they were investigating maladministration and financial mismanagement at NSFAS from 2018 to 2023.
Lekgetho also told Scopa they were still investigating overpayments to institutions of higher learning.
“NSFAS has failed to design and implement controls to ensure that there is an annual reconciliation between the funds disbursed to the institutions and the allocation of those funds to the students. This control weakness has led to overpayments and underpayments of funds to the different institutions over the period 2017 to date. NSFAS has recently appointed a service provider to assist them in performing this reconciliation via a process called 'close-out reporting’,” said Lekgetho.
He also said the SIU was investigating the lease agreement that NSFAS signed with another company. The lease agreement was irregularly entered into, he said.
The lease was R30 million a year, and it was for 10 years.
He said NSFAS had turned down an offer to lease another building at half the price.
“Allegations were received from a whistleblower that NSFAS irregularly entered into a contract that provides for rental of the building at a cost of R30 million per annum for a period of 10 years.
“There are indications that the fit-out costs that were due to be incurred by NSFAS in respect of the five-year lease agreement were excessive. A quantity surveyor has been appointed to determine the necessity of the items installed during the tenant installation and whether those items meet the specification criteria determined by NSFAS.
“A possible building that could have been rented at half the cost of the current building was decided against as tenant installation could only occur after a three-month period due to occupation of the building,” said Lekgetho.
He added that the quantity surveyor will decide whether the lease for the building is justified.