Twitter / My NSFAS

NSFAS ‘paid R2 billion to the wrong students’ – and it may not be recovered

The financial administrators at NSFAS have struck again: Parliament has heard how an eye-watering sum of money was lost to “erroneous transactions”.


Twitter / My NSFAS

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have scored another massive own-goal here. After attending a Parliamentary hearing into their administrative misgivings, it was revealed that a whopping R2 billion had been “given to the wrong students” – and it only gets worse from there.

NSFAS “may have lost R2 billion” to wrong payments

Facing the select committee on education and technology, sports, arts and culture in Parliament on Wednesday, NSFAS were given a proper dressing down over their “irregular records”.

Committee chair Mamagase Elleck Nchabeleng lead the follow-up session, and discovered that the erroneous payments may be “irrecoverable”, given the state of their financial processes.

“The chronic state of maladministration within the financial aid scheme resulted in irregular expenditure that amounted to R7.5bn in 2017/2018. A failure of critical governance processes in 2018 had placed immense strain on the scheme, where a climate of non-compliance to statutory reporting appeared to be the norm”. 

“NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen, who made the presentation to the committee, attributed this to irregular records in the system, which he said means wrong payments were made to wrong students and at a wrong time. He said it is estimated that up to R2bn could be irrecoverable.”

Mamagase Elleck Nchabeleng

A tale of two payments

NSFAS were in the news recently, after being accused of giving one bemused student a R5bn payout by mistake. Yet, as willing as some were to believe the allegations, they denied the event had took place:

“On 10 February, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme became aware of an allegation trending on social media alleging the scheme had paid R5-billion into a student’s bank account. This allegation is not true, and we can confirm that NSFAS did not make any payment amounting to R5-billion to any student.”

NSFAS statement

However, the organisation have screwed-up royally in this regard before: In June 2017, Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student Sibongile Mani had R14.1m mistakenly deposited into her student account from NSFAS – she went on a spending spree, and ended up in court after failing to return the cash.

Mani kept very quiet about the new funds but was eventually caught out after a series of high profile payments. Her newfound riches also drew attention from fellow students.In just over three months Mani spent over R810 000 on personal items. This means that during that time, she spent an average of R11 000 per day.