The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has been given the authority to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The unit is expected to launch the investigation shortly.
President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation which gave the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) the authority to investigate the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This decision was made after allegations of corruption and maladministration in the bursary scheme.
The allegations included that NSFAS bursaries were first allocated to relatives of NSFAS employees and the allocation of large amounts of money into students’ bank accounts raised concerns of corruption and maladministration in the organisation. SIU then decided to submit a proclamation to the president to investigate these matters.
According to the unit, the investigation is expected to cover the period between April 2016 and August 2022 and any other period relevant to the investigation. Although the investigation does not have a timeframe, the unit would like to ensure that the matter is resolved within in a year.
The investigation is said to look into two functions of NSFAS. Kaizer Kganyago, the SIU spokesperson, said that the first part will investigate the management of finances in the organisation and the second part will look into 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”.
“Furthermore, the SIU will also investigate related unauthorised, irregular or fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred by the NSFAS or the State, including the causes of maladministration,” said Kganyago.
According to the SIU spokesperson, the conduct of officials will also be under scrutiny. Any unlawful or improper conduct by officials or employees of NSFAS will be investigated.
The unit hopes to seek to recover any funds lost by the government as a result of any wrongful actions at the organization. The corruption-busting unit has been empowered to institute a civil action in the High Court or a Special Tribunal in its name, to correct any unlawful action discovered during both investigations caused by acts of corruption, maladministration, or fraud.
Kganyago said that the unit will refer any evidence indicating criminal conduct discovered to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for further action. This is in line with the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996.