Student faces legal action over R14m NSFAS payment 'error'

2017-08-30 14:14

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Cape Town – The Walter Sisulu University student who received a R14.1m NSFAS payment bonanza and spent a portion of it, faces legal action, said Intellimali, the company which facilitates student payments.

"The student, whose name is known to Intellimali, did not report the oversight, but chose rather to access the funds. When the error was discovered in early August 2017, she had misappropriated R818 000," CEO Michael Ansell said in a statement on Wednesday.

Ansell said the R14.1m was deposited into her account in error in June 2017. It happened during a payment run to 3 500 students at Walter Sisulu University who are financed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The overpayment was the first in 10 years of loading R5bn worth of allowances for books and food that students access with an Intellicard account. No other student was overpaid, Ansell said.

He said staff verified the figures before they were processed. All the data was correct at the time of the uploads. He said Intellimali took full responsibility and neither NSFAS nor the university were at fault.

The company had deactivated her allowance and a "complex, highly technical and time consuming" investigation was underway.

Intellimali could not be reached to comment on whether any staff members were implicated. A call requesting further information was cut off.

NSFAS distances itself

The university wanted to know why the company did not detect the blunder sooner and would meet Intellimali representatives to get answers.

As far as the university was concerned, the student, based at the East London campus, had to pay back the money.

NSFAS quickly distanced itself from the issue. It said on Twitter that it did not make direct payments to students and that the matter was between the payment company and the university.

The student is understood to be an office bearer with the Pan African Students Movement of Azania (Pasma). A Pasma colleague, academic officer Lwando September, said her only comment on the matter would be the Facebook post she published.

"The answer is simple, NSFAS made a mistake and allocated more money in a wrong account and that account happened to be mine," she wrote.

"So I am not denying anything, the money was indeed loaded on the 1st of June and reversed on the 13th August."

She questioned why her short-lived good fortune was made public and felt the Student Representative Council had not shown her any support.

"As a responsible person and a member of Pasma not just a member but a leader of students I went straight to the SRC to report this matter."

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced in January that the NSFAS budget for the 2017 academic year was R15bn.

Read more on:    nsfas  |  walter sisulu university  |  port elizabeth  |  education  |  university fees

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