NSFAS students in shock over return of third party financial service providers

The NSFAS offices in Cape Town. | Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

The NSFAS offices in Cape Town. | Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 3, 2024


Trouble is on the horizon for the higher education sector as students decry the resumption of irregularly appointed financial service providers, for direct payment of students’ allowances.

While universities are still in recess, complaints from student beneficiaries of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have started cropping up over the delayed payment of student allowances since the scheme once more began using the four service providers.

Commenting on a viral video made by suspended Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) SRC president Keamogetswe Masike, many students complained how they were now struggling to get access to their allowances.

Many said they had attempted to transfer money from their Ezaga accounts to their personal accounts to no avail, while some who claimed to be from the University of Free State said they too had yet to see a cent.

Others accused the Norraco service providers of only paying students at the University of Johannesburg R330, while some from the University of the Western Cape said they were yet to receive anything.

In the viral video, Masike claimed he was expelled from the university after he refused to be silenced after NSFAS resumed the services of the four service providers fingered in corrupt activities.

“They have lied to students and misled the nation pretending as if they are solving the issue yet, they know that they are in bed with these service providers. There’s no termination that’s happening.

“The direct payment through Ezaga and other service providers is back and our students are waiting to receive their allowances through these dodgy banks once again. I was expelled because the minister is directly involved and NSFAS is failing to resolve this matter.”

On March 4, acting NSFAS chairperson Professor Lourens van Staden announced during a media briefing that universities would facilitate the payment of allowances for the months of February and March.

The news came after an uproar over reports that fingered Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande of having kickbacks paid to him, NSFAS board chairperson Ernest Khosa and the SACP.

The alleged corruption was revealed by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) through a report and leaked audio recordings of meetings between Khosa, Thula Ntumba, the husband of Tshegofatso Ntumba, a director at Coinvest, and an unnamed third party.

These recordings allegedly reveal discussions about the appointment of Werksmans Attorneys in order to try and manipulate the outcome of the NSFAS investigation, payments to the SACP, Nzimande as well as Khosa.

Nzimande and NSFAS, however, have remained mum as to why and how the service providers have allegedly resumed payment of allowances.

University of Pretoria spokesperson Rikus Delport confirmed that while the university had managed to effect payment of student allowances for February and March, service providers had taken over payment of allowances from April 1.

Efforts were made to reach out to NSFAS spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi regarding the payment of allowances, but he was not available.

TUT was also contacted for comment on the payments as well as the allegations levelled against the university by the suspended SRC president, but there was no response.