Billions “wasted” according to SFC
Solidarity Helping Hand’s Study Fund Centre (SFC) had started legal action against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The SFC demands answers about millions of alleged “incorrect” payments to a some students over the last few years. They would also ask the court that NSFAS furnish them with more information about the irregular expenditure of R7,5 billion incurred by the financial aid scheme in the last financial year.
According to Stefan Pieterse, head of the SFC, these incorrect and irregular pay-outs by NSFAS are an absolute waste of tax money and it would be in the public interest to take immediate action. “If officials had spent the amount of R7,5 billion correctly, an estimated 150 000 students could have been assisted with R50 000 each for tuition fees in 2020,” Pieterse said.
Meanwhile, Solidarity Helping Hand has filed an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to demand answers on the following issues:
- Clarity on a screenshot of an SMS notification (dated 08 February 2020) according to which a student allegedly received R5 billion (with NSFAS as reference). The scheme, meanwhile, denied that it had paid this money to a student;
- A progress report of the incident where the NSFAS wrongly transferred R14 million to the account of a student at the Walter Sisulu University in 2017;
- A detailed account of how NSFAS spent R7,5 billion in 2018/2019.
“It is time for our state officials to be held personally accountable for their actions and for the perpetrators to be penalised. Money cannot just disappear,” Pieterse said.
The SFC is a division of the charity Helping Hand and annually assists many needy students who cannot afford to study, by providing them with interest-free study loans.