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Intellimali Issues Apology to NSFAS: Resolving the R14.1m Student Payment Blunder



Intellimali Issues Apology to NSFAS: Resolving the R14.1m Student Payment Blunder

Intellimali Issues Apology to NSFAS: Resolving the R14.1m Student Payment Error. In a significant development, Intellimali, an independent service provider, has extended a formal apology to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for a payment blunder that saw R14.1 million mistakenly credited to a student’s account. The incident, dating back over six years, has finally prompted Intellimali’s CEO, Michael Ansell, to address the matter and express regret during a recent presentation to NSFAS. Here’s a breakdown of the situation and the steps taken to rectify the issue.

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R14.1m Payment Error

The error occurred in June 2017, when Intellimali erroneously granted a staggering R14.1 million to a student at Walter Sisulu University (WSU), rather than the intended R1,400 food allowance. The recipient, Sibongile Mani, later faced legal consequences for misusing a substantial portion of the funds. Her conviction for theft led to imprisonment, with an ongoing appeal against the sentence.

Addressing the Issue

During a recent presentation involving a FirstRand delegation, Andile Nongogo, CEO of NSFAS, sought clarification from Intellimali’s CEO, Michael Ansell, regarding the measures taken to prevent similar errors. Nongogo also questioned why Intellimali hadn’t previously cleared NSFAS’s name from media implications. Ansell acknowledged the lapse and offered an apology if warranted, citing a lack of awareness on his part. He highlighted the company’s efforts to enhance internal checks and security systems to prevent recurrence.

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Results of Forensic Investigations

Post the incident, Intellimali underwent comprehensive external forensic audits conducted by Ernst & Young and the Department of Higher Education’s forensic department. Both audits conclusively cleared Intellimali of any wrongdoing, reaffirming the company’s commitment to accountability and rectification. The audits aimed not only to clear the company’s name but also to restore its reputation.

NSFAS Perspective and Media Engagement

Nongogo raised concerns about media portrayals that implicated NSFAS as the source of the erroneous payment. He inquired why Intellimali hadn’t proactively clarified the situation. Ansell revealed that the company’s public relations advice advocated limited media engagement, leading to minimal responses. Ansell shared that rectifying the issue, conducting audits, and managing reputational damage incurred significant financial costs.

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Mending Relations

Ansell clarified that the recent apology aimed at healing the strained relationship between Intellimali and NSFAS since the 2017 incident. He reiterated the absence of operational flaws or staff misconduct, as established by the forensic investigations. Ansell assured that Intellimali’s systems underwent robust strengthening, fostering a secure operational environment.

Recent Controversies and Governance Issues

Nongogo’s involvement in bid presentations and his professional conduct drew controversy. Allegations arose regarding his role at the Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Sseta), particularly regarding a contract awarded to a company connected to Tshegofatso Ntumba, Coinvest Africa’s director. Governance experts criticized Nongogo’s involvement in such matters.

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Intellimali’s recent apology to NSFAS signifies a pivotal step towards rectifying the R14.1 million student payment error. The company’s subsequent forensic investigations yielded conclusive results, affirming its commitment to rectification. With a renewed focus on preventing future incidents and mending relations, Intellimali aims to rebuild trust and uphold accountability in the education funding landscape.

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