25 July 2019
Several Port Elizabeth TVET College students opened cases of fraud against the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) on Wednesday afternoon.
About 100 students marched through the city centre, carrying satchels on their backs, to protest in front of the Humewood police station. This comes after students say funds deposited by NSFAS are soon afterwards fraudulently withdraw from their bank accounts.
Neziswa Mlumiso, doing Hospitality Services, said NSFAS is using Celbux, a money transfer system. “Through Celbux, you get a voucher number plus your own pin number from NSFAS to draw the money either at Spar or Shoprite,” she said.
She received her NSFAS accommodation and transport allowance of R2,600 on 15 February. ”But it disappeared within a few days. First, there was R500 that disappeared, and the other day another R500 vanished … I phoned NSFAS’s tollfree number, but you only listen to music the whole day on their phone … I wrote two emails but no response. “
She said similar things were happening to other students.
Another student, said her money for accommodation was withdrawn at Shoprite in Queenstown. “NSFAS deposited it at about 8am in the morning. It was R975 for transport allowance … Then within a few minutes, it disappeared. NSFAS told me it was withdrawn in Queenstown, but I told them I am based in PE.”
The march was led by the South African Students Congress (SASCO).
College principal Khaya Matiso was also present. He said it was a collective anti-crime campaign. “As management, as staff, as SRC (Students Representative Council), we must all fight crime … My students are concerned about fraud and crime that is taking place in the financial aid institution and outside of college.”
“We still want good financial aid for the poor … My students need money for tuition, for transport,” said Matiso.
Students shouted, “Amandla! Ngawethu!” and punched their fists in the air. They sang songs, such as Zizojikizinto (Things will change), and Thula mtanam (Don’t cry my child).
Christian Velaphi, SASCO coordinator, handed a memorandum to Lieutenant Colonel Mark Houwland, and said, “In the next 14 working days, we need a written response.”
Police spokesperson Warrant officer Alwin Labans said, “I can confirm that three cases of fraud were opened.”
GroundUp was unable to reach NSFAS on Wednesday, but spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo published the following statement on the institution’s website:
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is aware and notes with concern issues of fraud at Port Elizabeth TVET College, where a number of students were defrauded of their allowances. NSFAS would like to make it clear that this matter has been handed over to crime intelligence. NSFAS would like to urge and caution students on the NSFAS Wallet to keep their cellphone numbers and pin safe and secured. We appeal to all student and members of the public to come forward with any information that might assist in the investigation.
Tips on how to avoid scams:
1. Students are advised to not share their NSFAS Wallet login details with anyone.
2. Do not respond to SMS requesting your confidential information.
3. When you receive suspicious calls or SMS’s please contact NSFAS call Centre as soon as possible.
For any fraud related matter email firstname.lastname@example.org. At this moment in time we are unable to divulge any further details on the nature of the investigation.