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NSFAS cleared from R14m saga

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has noted and welcomed the East London Regional Court ruling, which proved that the scheme was not involved in the erroneous payment of R14m to Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student, Sibongile Mani.
Image source: © Leon Swart –
Image source: © Leon Swart –

Mani, who spent R800,000 over a three-month period before the error was spotted, was found guilty of theft by the East London Regional Court. She is expected to be back in court on 8 March 2022.

In a statement, NSFAS reiterated the facts stated in 2017, which showed that no financial loss suffered on the part of the scheme, as a result of the payment error.

NSFAS spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo, maintained that no payment of R14m was transferred into any student or university account - intended for Mani, and that the normal monthly payment of R1,400 was paid by NSFAS to WSU intended for Mani.

Mamabolo also emphasised that no relationship or contractual agreement exists between NSFAS and Intellimali, a service provider appointed by the university to disburse funds to the students.

“The CEO of Intellimali confirmed that, Intellimali takes full administrative and financial responsibility for the incident. Neither the funder, National Student Financial Aid Scheme, nor the university have erred in any way, and they are not responsible for this,” Mamabolo highlighted.

Mamabolo said NSFAS was informed that WSU appointed Intellimali as a service provider to administer the payment of allowances to WSU students.

“At the time NSFAS had a meeting with the Walter Sisulu University and service provider Intellimali, to conclude a way-forward regarding the R14m saga,” Mamabolo explained.

He said the three parties confirmed to the South African public that:

  • No public funds were 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 had established that these funds belonged to the university, and not NSFAS as initially believed;
  • The service provider reimbursed WSU the full amount misappropriated by the student;
  • No WSU employee was found to have been involved in the erroneous crediting of the R14.1m into the student's IntelliCard account, and that there was no system breach thereof;
  • The then WSU Vice Chancellor, Professor Midgley, expressed gratitude that Intellimali has taken full responsibility for the error and took steps to reimburse the R818,000 loss to ensure that no future student allowances are affected;
  • No steps were taken by WSU against the student. The university had opted to await the outcomes of the forensic investigation by a reputable auditing firm, before considering any further steps; and
  • WSU provided counselling to the student to ensure that she can continue with her studies.

Mamabolo said that NSFAS is improving its disbursement processes, through a direct disbursement mode from NSFAS to the student bank account, and “an announcement will be made in due course about this initiative by the new NSFAS Board”.

The NSFAS Board and management has also expressed its appreciation to all the stakeholders, including investors, funders, partners and students who believed in the scheme and supported Mani during this difficult time.

Mamabolo said the scheme will continue the consultations with the student leadership and formations across the country, to ensure that “student’s interests are at the heart of everything we do”.

SOURCE is a South African government news service, published by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS). (formerly BuaNews) was established to provide quick and easy access to articles and feature stories aimed at keeping the public informed about the implementation of government mandates.

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Read more: NSFAS, NSFAS funding

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