Home South African SIU goes after ghost students, double-dipping at NSFAS

SIU goes after ghost students, double-dipping at NSFAS

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The Special Investigating Unit is conducting an intense probe into the alleged looting of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, and this includes ghost students, double-dipping by students and other corruption matters.

SIU head, advocate Andy Mothibi. Picture: GCIS

THE SPECIAL Investigating Unit (SIU) is conducting an intense probe into the alleged looting of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and this includes ghost students, double-dipping by students and other corruption matters.

The SIU also told parliamentarians that part of their investigation into NSFAS would focus on overpayments to institutions of higher learning.

There were students who dropped out of universities, but money was still paid to these institutions.

The unit said they wanted to get to the bottom of all these issues because they did not want NSFAS to continue losing money.

Chief Investigations Officer at the SIU, Leonard Lekgoethe, told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) this week that the cause of some of these problems was due to senior staff members at NSFAS not exercising their duties responsibly.

The investigations will also help them to identify the loopholes in the system.

Senior officials at the financial aid scheme had a duty to ensure they protected the funds and that no money had been siphoned illegally, said Lekgoethe.

Lekgoethe also told Scopa that there were syndicates operating in the student accommodation sector and the SIU would also investigate this matter.

But what really concerned the SIU was how there were ghost students who received money from NSFAS, and there were those who received funding from more than one institution.

“The SIU has identified different scenarios in terms of which students are funded, such as there is the issue of overpayment where students are being given more than what they qualify for,” said Lekgoethe.

There were also cases where some of the students were given less than what they qualified for.

“There is the issue of ghost students, where students do not exist, but there is funding done by NSFAS to those students, and there is double-dipping. Double-dipping relates to students who go to different institutions. They get funded at different institutions at a time. There is the issue of drop-outs where students apply, they drop out, but the money is still paid to the institution,” said Lekgoethe.

All these issues point to a failure by senior officials at NSFAS to address these problems.

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