The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) ensures that thousands of students have the opportunity to achieve their academic potential at tertiary institutions around South Africa. However, the scheme has had its fair share of challenges.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed a proclamation which will allow the country’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to investigate the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas). The unit will focus on the scheme’s operation between 2016 and August 2022.
SIU spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago said the investigation will focus on two areas of Nsfas’ operations. These include the management of schemes finances and the conduct of the scheme’s workers.
They explained, “The first part will look into the management of Nsfas finances. The second part will investigate the allocation of loans, bursaries and any other funding payable to students in terms of the provisions of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, 1999, Act No. 56 of 1999.”
Kganyago said the SIU will also investigate related unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by Nsfas or the State, including the causes of maladministration.
The SIU will also look to claw back any monies lost by the state as a result of any potential wrongful actions by Nsfas. They will also refer any evidence of criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution.
“The SIU is empowered to institute civil action in the High Court, or a Special Tribunal in its name, to correct any wrongdoing uncovered during both investigations caused by acts of corruption, fraud or maladministration” concluded Kganyago.
Earlier this year Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande revealed that thousands of students undeservedly benefited from Nsfas bursaries. These students exceeded the household income threshold needed to qualify for Nsfas.
He said that 32 654 students were being funded by Nsfas but had a household income that exceeds R400 000 per annum. At least 7,080 students had a household income exceeding R1 Million per annum while 632 students had household income that exceeded R2 million per annum. Nzimande said these students will be defunded.