#NSFAS R14m error: ‘I reported the matter to authorities’
By Tebogo Monama and Yasmine Jacobs | IOL |
Cape Town – A person believed to be the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who was “erroneously” paid R14 million of financial aid into her account has revealed her side in a Facebook post.
She says she was the one who notified authorities.
“(They) allocated more money in a wrong account and that account happened to be mine. So I don’t deny anything…the money was loaded on the 1st june and reversed on the 13th August. But the question is how did it happen to be public news. The answer is still simply and right in front of us…(they) forget to mention one part that… I reported the matter to the authorities,” says the Facebook post.
“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. Today the people who are supposed to be defending me the SRC is quiet, some of them are responsible for the leaking of this information because they want to settle political scores.”
Michael Ansell, chief executive of IntelliMali, which manages the allocation of funds at the Walter Sisulu University’s (WSU) students IntelliCard, said the firm was taking legal action against the student who had “helped herself” to the money.
Ansell said on Wednesday the East London-based student received a NSFAS monthly food allowance of R14.1m instead of R1 400 in June
It is alleged that she spent over R800 000 and is being investigated for fraud.
But according to Ansell, the student did not report the oversight and “chose rather to access the funds”.
Ansell said IntelliMali took administrative and financial responsibility for the incident.
“The investigation proved to be complex, highly technical and time consuming. It required the attention of both internal professionals and external experts. IntelliMali has appointed a forensic auditor to investigate this incident which can only be described as unprecedented in our 10-year history,” Ansell said.
During this time, the company had loaded and managed more than R5 billion in allowances which were checked and verified by staff before being processed, he said.
The June batch had 3 500 students and all data had been correct at the time the uploads took place, Ansell said.
“Only one of thousands of students received this allowance in error. No student’s financial aid support will be affected in any way. We have already put in place the necessary controls to prevent an incident of this nature ever happening again,” he said.
Ansell said the unit was in talks with NSFAS and WSU to determine the most appropriate action to be taken.
WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said university management would meet Ansell to discuss the matter and investigate what went wrong and why the error had gone undetected for months.
“The student’s account has been blocked and the remaining balance has been retracted.
“The student has been advised by the university that she would remain liable for the money that she has spent,” Tukwayo said.
A statement from NSFAS said the agency had paid the university the total budget for it to disburse allowances to its own NSFAS funded students using its own processes, systems and service providers.
“When a mistake occurs in these processes, it is in the hands of the university to apply necessary corrective measures.
“NSFAS is not involved, except to get an official report from the university detailing what happened. NSFAS has made a request to the university for such a report,” the scheme said.
It is not clear where the money was spent and according to the IntelliMali website and call centre the card can only be used at participating retailers.
A lawyer, Robert Xaba, said the student had been wrong to spend the money as it did not belong to her.
“Now it will be her word against their word that she went to them when the error occurred, but they did nothing. Either way, she was not supposed to spend money that was not hers. She was not entitled to it,” Xaba pointed out.