The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Ms Connie September, has called on all entities involved in the erroneous payment of R14 million to a student to take full responsibility.
All four entities involved – Intellimali, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the Walter Sisulu University and the Department of Higher Education and Training, briefed the Committee on how the money was erroneously paid to one student, and what steps had been taken.
“We need to know if this money derives from money that is appropriated by Parliament and not raised privately. If this is the understanding, then we need to know what the Public Finance Management Act says about public finances,” Ms September said. The institutions must review the entire payment system and ensure they stick to the highest ethical standards and accountability required when handling public finances, she said.
The Committee heard that the institutions involved had followed procedure and the error is now the subject of forensic investigations by an audit firm and the police.
The Committee expressed concerns about systems at Intellimali and said the student should not be the only person held to account for the transgression. “The entities are all talking about the fact that there are loopholes in the system. You need to meet with the business community and inform them that they cannot be accessories to fraudulent activities.
It is still not clear how merchants allow an Intelli card, that does not have cash, to be used for purchases amounting to over R800 000,” Ms September said. She said the Committee was concerned about what appeared to be a gross abuse of the system.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Committee, Connie September