Parliament weighs in on 'million-rands student'

Parliament has come out saying that the payment to the "million-rands student" is "dubious and unacceptable".

In a media statement, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on higher eduation and training Connie September said the committee deserved to be taken into confidence over the more than R14-million payment to a Walter Sisulu University student. 

The second-year accounting student at the Potsdam campus, Sibongile Mani, 27, admitted that she received the erroneous payment on June 1 and reportedly blew an average of R11000 per day.

During the 73 days the money spent in her account, Mani spent a total of R818 000 on lavish parties, iPhone 7s, R3 000 Peruvian weave and other expensive gifts for her friends.

September said the committee needed to know how the money was spent.

"It can only serve to benefit members of the committee to be brought up to speed on how such a dubious act occurred and why it took this long to be identified. The committee wants to know the number of students who could have benefitted from this money.

"This is unacceptable that such a grave mistake as this one could occur undetected on money appropriated by parliament, and disbursed by various entities including the Department right down to the level of ending up in a private account," September said. 

She said the committee accepts that this is not the fault of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, but still companies that NSFAS use to distribute funding should be of unquestionable capacity with efficiency all round.

The company (Intellimali) responsible for the mishap had said it will follow the law in trying to recover the money.

“It is rather unfortunate that the student did not query the extra zeros that have been put to the original amount she should have received.”

September said the committee accepts that steps are under way to recover the money and is keen to hear from the Department and NSFAS on the matter.

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