Parliament demands answers on dubious R14 million payment to a student

2017-08-31 11:53

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The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training deserves to be taken into confidence about the erroneous payment of R14 million to a student at the Walter Sisulu University.

Sibongile Mani, is at the centre of an accidental R14-million payout. Sibongile accidentally received the payment on her student debit card from National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). She allegedly spent more than R800. 000 after an administrative error saw her receive R14-million for food and book allowances.

University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo told media that a female student received the payment about five months ago. “People started complaining after she started living a very lavish lifestyle‚” Tukwayo said.

She stated that there were specific merchants where students were able to use the money to buy books and food‚ so the university would investigate how the student was able to buy some of the goods she bought.

“Some students picked this up from the very lavish lifestyle she started living. We will also be looking into how this money was spent to buy some of the expensive goods‚” she said. The spokesperson said there have been previous cases where merchants had colluded with students‚ but this will be part of the investigation. Tukwayo said, “We don’t know how this happened but she will be held liable to pay back the money she had spent.”

NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said the financial aid scheme didn’t pay the money directly to the student and said the university had to account.

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training chairperson Connie September said, “It can only serve to benefit members of the committee to be brought up to speed on how such a dubious act occurred and why it took this long to be identified. The Committee wants to know the number of students who could have benefitted from this money.”

“This is unacceptable that such a grave mistake as this one could occur undetected on money appropriated by parliament, and disbursed by various entities including the department right down to the level of ending up in a private account.”

But she cleared NSFAS of any wrong doing. But pointed her finger to service providers.  “The companies that NSFAS use to distribute funding should be of unquestionable capacity with efficiency all round,” September said’ The company (Intellimali) responsible for the mishap has said it will follow the law in trying to recover the money.

“It is rather unfortunate that the student did not query the extra zeros that have been put to the original amount she should have received.”

Sepember accepts that steps are underway to recover the money and is keen to hear from the department and NSFAS on the matter. Intellimali may as well be required to appear before the committee.


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