Home Articules Corruption probe puts NSFAS officials under the microscope

Corruption probe puts NSFAS officials under the microscope

Corruption probe puts NSFAS officials under the microscope

Nsfas officials
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) recently announced that it will launch an investigation into maladministration in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The SIU’s main objective is to recover any financial losses suffered by the government and part of the investigation will focus on any fraudulent activities carried out by Nsfas officials.

SOUTH AFRICA – Cape Town – 20 February 2020 – Stock – NSFAS offices in Wynberg. This is a government bursary and student loan institution. Reception area Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Earlier this year, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande stressed that government should not allow Nsfas funding to be misused, pointing to the fact that some children of highly successful government officials were receiving Nsfas funding when they were not supposed to.

Nzimande’s claim raised many concerns as people questioned how these children receive Nsfas funds when they are not entitled.

Nsfas CEO Andile Nongogo explained in an interview that in the past there were no third-party verification methods for household income requirements and NSFAS instead relied on pay slips and affidavits.

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This is where unauthorized funding would occur.
He says Nsfas has since put mechanisms in place to allow them to cross-check the information provided by applicants with data from SARS and has found about 38 000 Nsfas beneficiaries worth R2.4 billion that should not have been funded.

Nsfas uses SARS as the primary source for all verification, but this still presents problems because if parents or guardians forget to submit their tax returns, Nsfas will not detect that the student is below the household income threshold.

Once Nsfas provides data to SARS, SARS has a 72-hour turnaround time to verify that applicants are eligible for funding.

Another issue that has raised concern is that some Nsfas officials have also been accused of cheating students of their Nsfas contributions and it has been caught mainly among TVET college students.

Nongogo says when Nsfas disburses allowances to TVET undergraduates, a wallet system is used and to retrieve, the official has to enter the student’s phone number to pay them, as irregularities have been detected.

Some officials recorded their own phone numbers instead of students.
Officials who were found are being disciplined and some people have been fired.

Nongogo believes that the SIUs will be able to deal with the many problems and fraudulent activities that the Nsfas administration has not been able to investigate.

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