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NGO to take NSFAS to court

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“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”

SOLIDARITY Helping Hand’s Study Fund Centre (SFC) has announced that it has initiated legal action against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) following millions of rand of alleged “incorrect” payments to students.

Stefan Pieterse, head of the SFC, said yesterday that the union was demanding answers about the payments of millions of rand to a few students over the last few years.

“We also want more information about the irregular expenditure of R7.5 billion incurred by the financial aid scheme in the last financial year,” he stated.

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.

According to Pieterse these incorrect and irregular pay-outs by the NSFAS were 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 February 8, 2020) according to which a student allegedly received R5 billion (with NSFAS as reference); 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; and a detailed account of how NSFAS spent the irregular expenditure of R7.5 billion it had incurred in 2018/19.

The scheme, meanwhile, has denied that it had paid R5 billion to a student.