01/09/2017 08:03 SAST | Updated 01/09/2017 08:03 SAST

Special Investigating Unit Could Investigate NSFAS Millionaire

The SIU says it is considering getting involved in the investigation into how R14 million was paid to a student.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Bloomberg via Getty Images
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) could ask President Jacob Zuma for permission to investigate the R14 million National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) payment made to student Sibongile Mani, The Sowetan reported on Friday.

Before being caught, Mani, a 27-year-old student at Walter Sisulu University, spent over R800 000 of R14 million that was erroneously given to her by NFSAS.

This week, the SIU said it was contemplating asking Zuma for the go-ahead to investigate the payment on its own. Usually, outside parties request Zuma to issue a proclamation for the SIU to investigate matters. The SIU only investigates once Zuma has issued a proclamation.

SIU spokesperson Nazreen Pandor told the Sowetan: "After considering the matter, we may, on our own, request a proclamation."

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande reportedly said he "condemned [the payment] in the strongest terms" and has ordered NSFAS to get to the bottom of the matter urgently.

Mani will have to pay back all of the money she spent. She should have had access to R1 400 from her student loan to use for food, but was paid R14 million by mistake. A series of lavish parties and a spending spree led to suspicions about her spending behaviour.

University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo told News24 on Thursday: "She is aware that she will have to pay the money. She knows that [NSFAS] funds are loans, they are not gifts. She will have to pay it back. She will unfortunately kick off her working career with a massive debt that she will have to pay off."