Forensic investigators to tackle R14m student payment


Financial services company IntelliMali has reimbursed Walter Sisulu University the R818 000 spent by a student who in June erroneously received R14 million instead of the R1 400 monthly food allowance allocated by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Following a meeting on Friday 8 September between NSFAS, Walter Sisulu University (WSU) and Intellimali the three parties issued a joint statement to the South African public as follows:

  • No public funds were lost in the unfortunate process that led to the R14 million error and the R818 000 that was subsequently misappropriated by the student. Preliminary investigations by the service provider have established that these funds belonged to the university, and not NSFAS as initially believed;
  • IntelliMali has reimbursed WSU the full amount misappropriated by the student, from its own company finances. WSU Vice Chancellor, Prof. Midgley, expressed gratitude that IntelliMali has taken full responsibility for the error and took steps to reimburse the R818 000 loss;
  • Following preliminary assessments, NSFAS and WSU can confirm that no employee on either part, has been found to have been involved in the erroneous crediting of the R14.1 million into the student’s IntelliCard account;
  • IntelliMalli has appointed a credible audit firm to institute a forensic investigation into the matter;
  • No steps have been taken by WSU against the student. The university has opted to await the outcomes of the forensic investigation before considering any further steps. The university is also providing counselling to the student to ensure that she continues with her studies;
  • IntelliMali has opened a case of theft against the student and is cooperating with law enforcement authorities in their investigation;
  • No other student at WSU has been affected by this error, and all remaining student allowances will continue to be managed efficiently by IntelliMali, “When IntelliMali receives an upload via email, the allowances are checked by the Uploads team who are dedicated to this task within the company. Once all the checks have been completed, the allowances are uploaded by a separate team in the finance department. These allowances are in the form of a ‘credit’ and no money is deposited into a bank account or given to a student in the form of cash.  The allowance is only made available within our ‘closed-loop’ system environment” said IntelliMali CEO Michael Ansell;
  • IntelliMali, NSFAS and WSU believe that the forensic investigation is the only way to get to the bottom of the matter and have committed to participating fully with the process. Upon the conclusion of investigation, the parties have committed to implementing the findings and will sharing them with all relevant stakeholders.

The statement, issued by NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo, said the parties had agreed no further media engagements regarding the matter would take place until the outcome of the forensic investigation was available.

“Commitment is made by all to account to the Parliament of South Africa should they be called upon to do so,” Mamabolo said.

Meanwhile, the South African Police Service on Tuesday said they were investigating a case of theft in connection with the R14m overpayment  to a student of the Walter Sisulu University in Berlin near East London in the Eastern Cape.

“Intellimali officials laid a charge of theft at the Berlin police station today,” spokesperson Brigadier Marinda Mills said. “The case has been assigned to a seasoned investigator and the standard investigative procedures  will now be followed.”

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Mzwamadoda Makalima, better known as Azlan Makalima, is a Grocotts Mail Online Producer, Journalist, Graphic and Layout Designer. He is a Head-Director at Multimedia Makenik, a Small Medium Micro Enterprise on Event Management, Graphic, Audio and Visual Design.

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