Parliament wants forensic probe of R14-million student payment

30 November 2017 - 14:22
By Petru Saal
R14-million was paid in error to student Sibongile Mani from Walter Sisulu University.
Image: Facebook/ Sibongile Mani R14-million was paid in error to student Sibongile Mani from Walter Sisulu University.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and training is pushing for a forensic investigation into how R14-million was paid in error to a student from Walter Sisulu University.

Months after details about the payment became known‚ there is still scant insight into how the massive sum was paid‚ instead of the usual R1‚400 National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowance‚ to Sibongile Mani.

Instead of immediately reporting the mistake‚ she went on a shopping spree‚ spending more than R800‚000 in 73 days on alcohol‚ cellphones and weaves.

Intellimali‚ the company tasked by the university to distribute NSFAS funding‚ opened a case of theft against her.

The higher education and training committee on Wednesday called on the department of higher education and training to urgently conduct a forensic investigation.

Committee chairperson Connie September said that a report from Intellimali‚ which conducted its own investigation‚ had not provided any insight into what happened.

“The report from Intellimali is still unable to identify the source of the error and does not even say how the error occurred. This is concerning to the committee‚ as it is tasked with approving the budget for the department‚” said September.

“As the report stands‚ it is of no use to the committee and yet R14- million was paid out‚ over R800‚000 of which was embezzled on cellphones‚ hair and expensive wines. The department should get involved and prepare a report for the committee early in 2018‚ preferably before the end of January‚” she said.

Intellimali’s report said: “The source code relating to the file upload process reflected the values (R1‚400) contained in the source upload file and not the actual value (R14-million) deposited into the Intellicard of the student.”

The company said earlier this year that that NSFAS and the university were not to blame for the mishap and was at pains to stress that financial aid for students was not affected.