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Cape Town - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on Wednesday refused to comment when asked about the R14.1 million mistakenly paid into the account of Walter Sisulu University student by a third-party service provider.
The scheme’s board members appeared before parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and training where they presented its annual report.

NSFAS chief executive Steven Zwane, told the committee that they (NSFAS board) will await the outcome of an instituted forensic investigation into the matter. 
“The issue still remains a concern to us as an organisation. We have noted the transaction and have noted that we have been defrauded in the manner that the vouchers were used. We have agreed with relevant players to institute an expensive forensic investigation, and we awaiting those particular outcomes which should come between now and next week,” said Zwane.

Sibongile Mani, a student at Walter Sisulu University was due R1 400 as a recipient of NSFAS loan, but reportedly received R14m instead. The transactions between students are done via Intellimali on behalf of the university. Mani allegedly spent R818 000 before being found out.

NSFAS is a financial scheme established by government with the aim to provide financial aid to eligible students who meet criteria for admission to higher education programme.The financial scheme allocate funds for loans and bursaries to eligible students.

Zwane says measures are however being put in place to ensure that a similar incident does not repeat itself in the future.

“Internally, we have tightened our security and processes to ensure that this does not happen again. Internally, we are educating our employees about fraud , we are also talking to students about their responsibility using the money that they get from the government through NSFAS wisely. On the other hand we are fast tracking the implementation of our payment system called sBux,” said Zwane.

Chairperson of the committee, Connie September urged NSFAS board to tread with caution while awaiting forensic investigation outcome.

“Everyone will not wait for the outcome of the forensic investigation, insofar as the commitment to the usage of the needy funds, immediate understanding of what the rights and duties are, in so far as being recipient of taxpayers money,” said September.
The scheme disbursed R12.4 billion for the past academic year. There is an increase increase of 33% compared to the 2015/2016 financial year when only R9,3 billion was allocated to students.

The annual report reveals that 83% of the financial aid was allocated to universities which received just over R10 billion, while TVET colleges received just over R2 billion. Net loans at nominal value account for R5.4 billion. Those who received 100% bursaries at TVET colleges and Universities were awarded R2.1 and R2.3 billion respectively.

Politics Bureau