Students guilty of allowance fraud
STUDENTS from eight institutions across the country, comprising technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and universities, have been implicated or found guilty of allowance fraud.
Some have been caught trading their food and textbook vouchers in exchange for cash. In the latest incident, at least two students from the University of Venda (Univen) were caught exchanging their coupons for cash.
According to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) the students’ accounts have since been blocked, therefore losing the money meant to cover their textbooks and food costs, among other things.
“There have been similar cases reported where whistle-blowers have contacted NSFAS and the Vuvuzela hotline after witnessing fraudulent activity,” NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said.
“Initially NSFAS has sent warning SMSs to students who were found selling or exchanging their allowances but as this activity increases it is evident that the SMS warning is no longer useful and NSFAS is now sending a stronger message to students not to misuse the allowances provided to them for academic support.”
Last month students from Univen took to the streets over the allocation of their allowance money.
They stayed away from classes for weeks, saying they depended on the allowance money for their sustenance on campus.
Mamabolo said the matter had been handed over to NSFAS’s legal and risk department for further investigation and that harsh measure would be taken to deal with the matter.
“NSFAS cannot and will not allow any abuse of taxpayers money.
We want to maintain a zero tolerance to fraud and corruption within the scheme. NSFAS approved merchants and students that are found to be involved in any related matters of fraud will face serious measures as the act may violate the sBux terms and conditions,” he said.
“We also urge students to look after their sBux PINs and their cellphones as the sBux transactions are processed using their cellphones.”
In January 2014 NSFAS introduced a new system called sBux to pay eligible students their allowances for food, books, private accommodation and travel using coupons or vouchers. Speaking to Ground Up Allan Gray said the research into the allegations on Net1 was ongoing and that they were gathering as much as they could on the matter.
“This includes meeting with civil society groups, independent researchers and third parties. We will use the information to pressurise the Net1 board to do the right thing. We welcome the opportunity to share our findings and recommendations once we have finalised our research. For the time being our strategy on Net1 remains the same, continue to hold them to account,” chief investment officer Andrew Lapping said.