MPs grill NSFAS‚ WSU‚ Intellimali over R14-million student deposit

13 September 2017 - 19:34 By Thabo Mokone
Student Sibongile Mani.
Student Sibongile Mani.
Image: Facebook/ Sibongile Mani

MPs have rejected assertions by the Walter Sisulu University‚ service provider Intellimali and NSFAS that there was foul play in the "erroneous" payment of R14-million into a student’s account.

The lawmakers from across the political divide pointed their guns at the three entities‚ with some telling Intellimali that they were too quick to lay criminal charges against student Sibongile Mani‚ while the role of their employees has not been investigated in the matter.

MPs also called on the higher education department to consider a review of the system used by NSFAS and universities to pay living allowances to students‚ saying there was no need for "middlemen" to be involved in the distribution of billions of rand.

Mani grabbed headlines earlier this month when she went on a huge spending spree amounting to more than R800‚000 when R14-million – instead of her monthly allowance of R1‚400 - was "erroneously deposited into her account.

The leadership of the WSU‚ Intellimali and NSFAS appeared before the higher education portfolio committee to account for the fumble.

"It's not possible that she was given this R14-million by Jesus‚" quipped EFF MP Sipho Mbatha.

"Treat all other persons in your establishments as suspects because it's too further from the truth that no one from your establishments was involved‚" he said.

ANC MP Sibongile Mchunu also weighed in‚ saying there was no reason why NSFAS could not develop its own capacity to directly pay grants to students.

"When will NSFAS get their capacity improved to put all students on it‚ so that we don't have these middlemen that put us in this situation‚ because there's extra money used to pay these service providers‚" she said.

Mchunu also lamented the fact that some of NSFAS' former senior executives were now directors and shareholders of IntellImali.

The MPs slammed intellimali for failing to swiftly stop Mani's spending spree even though they could track her transactions‚ including one incident in which she spent around R20‚000 in less than 30 minutes at an East London supermarket just days after the money was deposited into her account.

"For me it's the fault of the service provider‚ a student can just buy whenever they want to buy. Your systems are so weak such in your weekly reconciliations‚ you were not able to pick up that such an amount was deposited to this student‚ you only became aware after you were told by the institution."

Intellimali's Micheal Ansell said they were conducting an internal review of their systems but no staff members were suspects at this stage.

"We are interrogating our system and we are interrogating people‚" he said.

Another ANC MP‚ Connie September‚ who is the chairperson of the higher education committee‚ said the WSU‚ Intellimali and NSFAS were to blame for the multi-million rand mishap.