Call for payment system review
THE chairperson of Parliament’s higher education committee has called on all institutions involved in paying a student R14m to review the entire payment system.
Connie September said the institutions must ensure they meet the highest ethical standards and accountability when handling public finances.
September made this call after Intellimali, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, Walter Sisulu University and the Department of Higher Education and Training briefed the portfolio committee on how the money was erroneously paid to Sibongile Mani.
“We need to know if this money derives from money appropriated by Parliament and not raised privately. If this is the understanding, we need to know what the Public Finance Management Act says about public finances,” September said.
The portfolio committee said Mani should not be the only person held to account for the transgression.
“The entities are all talking about loopholes in the system. You need to meet with the business community and inform them they cannot be accessories to fraudulent activities. It is still not clear how merchants allowed an Intelli card, that does not have cash, for purchases amounting to more than R800 000,” September said.
DA member of Parliament and a member of the portfolio committee Belinda Bozzoli said it was revealed at Wednesday’s meeting that Mani must have colluded with vendors, bureaucratic officials and others to receive the funds and then go on a spending spree in places like East London, George, Queenstown and Centurion.
“It is vital the planned Intellimali forensic investigation include an examination of the role of both the university and Intellimali officials to discover how the initial transfer occurred, particularly given that Intellimali’s computer records at the time showed a transfer of only R1 400 and how the student was able to spend money on items not on the approved list?”
Bozolli said any person found to have been collaborators in the irregular acquisition and spending, including vendors, should be exposed and punished.
“Blacklisting of vendors who, in this and other cases, may be assisting students to abuse their bursary funds is