Intellimali takes flak over R14m student 'loan'

FILE: Walter Sisulu student Sibongile Mani, who made headlines after spending a chunk of R14-million mistakenly loaded onto her student loan card.

JOHANNESBURG  - ANC MPs have put the blame for the mistaken payment of R14-million on service provider Intellimali, saying it should have done more to prevent a student loan card from being used in an irregular manner.

Parliament was briefed on Tuesday on how a student was paid R14-million instead of R1,400  and went on to spend more than R800,000 of it.

None of the parties involved took responsibility for the erroneous payment.

“For me, honestly, it’s the fault of the service provider," said ANC MP Sibongile Mchunu.  "You were not able to pick up that such an amount was deposited into the student's account. We don’t know when did you know?

"We know that former NSFAS employees are now directors of Intellimali. I think because they have worked at NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] before, they should have known better", Mchunu said

Intellimali defended itself, saying it had a proven record.



Instead, it was the student who didn't behave appropriately after receiving the money, Intellimali said.

"In simple terms, we’d like to state there were no over sight, no errors or negligence by a member of Intellimali team in uploading the file the student in question received the correct allocation of R1,400," said Intellimali CEO Michael Ansell.

No one has been charged yet for depositing the millions into Sibongile Mani's account.

The Walter Sisulu University said its staff were also not to blame for the payment.

“We are not suspecting any rogue behaviour from any of our staff members ... it seems to us that our own internal systems are looking fine,” said the university's vice-chancellor, Rob Midgley.

The university was giving Mani support in dealing with both her situation and the media.

“To treat somebody as innocent until proven guilty, I think that is the way to go," Midgley, said.

"I also indicated in my initial report that we did not want to isolate any individual. We can’t just charge anybody without any suspicions. Let’s find out what it is and once we know, we will proceed against all those involved because if we don’t, we‘re actually losing the battle," he said.

NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane said it had asked the university to explain how such a large amount of money had been paid out.

"Speedily they responded to us and outlined the fact that from their side nothing happened. But they do suspect that issue could be with the third party,” he said, referring to Intellimali.

The matter is now under forensic investigation by an independent firm and the South African Police Service.



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