Mani’s R14m student aid bonanza riddle deepens
Spotlight shifts to service provider Intellimali in multimillion-rand payment to the Walter Sisulu University student
The National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Walter Sisulu University have distanced themselves from an erroneous multimillion-rand payment to a student, shifting the spotlight to service provider Intellimali.
The NSFAS and the university confirmed at the weekend that none of their employees had been found to have been involved. Intellimali said it had appointed a "credible audit firm" to do a forensic investigation into the matter.
Intellimali, the NSFAS and the university said the forensic probe was the only way to get to the bottom of the matter.
In July, an amount of R14.1m was deposited into Walter Sisulu student Sibongile Mani’s Intellicard account. The payment was only "discovered" two months later, after a receipt and photographs of Mani’s spending spree went viral on social media.
The service provider has opened a case of theft against Mani after she had spent more than R800‚000 of the money.
The NSFAS is responsible for providing financial aid to more than 500,000 students in 2017 with its R15bn budget.
Intellimali initially claimed the misplaced money should have been a payout by the NSFAS to provide 3,500 students with allowances of R1,400 each, but that would take the total to R4.9m.
In a statement, the parties said preliminary investigations by the service provider had established that the funds belonged to the university and not the NSFAS.
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande has requested reports from the university and the NSFAS.
Nzimande questioned the use of a third party to disburse NSFAS allowances and the source of the funds used to pay for the service provider.
Intellimali insisted that its systems were thorough and fail-proof.
CEO Michael Ansell denied that the company was responsible for the payment.
"Once all the checks have been completed, the allowances are uploaded by a separate team in the finance department," Ansell said.
"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," he said.