Forensic investigators appointed to probe R14m NSFAS payout

2017-09-09 14:51

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Port Elizabeth - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and IntelliMali have agreed to a full forensic investigation into how R14.1m was paid out to one of the university’s students.

Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani 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.

The three organisations have since appointed a credible audit firm to institute a forensic investigation into the matter.

"We believe that the forensic investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of the matter and have committed to participating fully with the process," NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said in a joint statement for the three organisations.

"Upon the conclusion of investigation, the parties have committed to implementing the findings and will sharing them with all relevant stakeholders."

No public funds lost

WSU Vice Chancellor Prof Rob Midgley expressed gratitude that IntelliMali had taken full responsibility for the error and took steps to reimburse the R818 000 loss.

"Following preliminary assessments, NSFAS and WSU can confirm that no employee on either part, has been found to have been involved in the erroneous crediting of the R14.1m into the student's IntelliCard account," said Mamabolo.

WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said no steps had been taken by WSU against Mani.

"The university has opted to await the outcomes of the forensic investigation before considering any further steps. The university is also providing counselling to the student to ensure that she continues with her studies," she said.

The three organisations wanted to assure the public that no public funds had been lost in the unfortunate process that led to the R14m error, and the R818 000 that was subsequently misappropriated by the student.

"Preliminary investigations by the service provider have established that these funds belonged to the university, and not NSFAS as initially believed," said Mamabolo.

They also stated that IntelliMali has reimbursed WSU the full amount misappropriated by the student, from its own company finances.

IntelliMali confirmed they had opened a case of theft against Mani and were cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation.

'No other student affected'

"No other student at WSU has been affected by this error, and all remaining student allowances will continue to be managed efficiently by IntelliMali," said IntelliMali CEO Michael Ansell.

Ansell explained that when IntelliMali received an upload via email, the allowances were checked by the Uploads team.

"Once all the checks have been completed, the allowances are uploaded by a separate team in the finance department

"These allowances are in the form of a 'credit' and no money is deposited into a bank account or given to a student in the form of cash."

The allowance is only made available within a 'closed-loop' system environment, said Ansell.

The three institutions said they would not engage further with the media regarding the matter, to allow all investigations to conclude.

"New information will be communicated when the outcomes of the forensic investigation are available," said Mamabolo.

Read more on:    south africa  |  nsfas

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