The South African ambassador to Spain Thenjiwe Mtintso’s adopted daughter Tia Plaatjie bragged on Twitter about using the National Financial Aid Scheme ( NSFAS) despite not being in any financial difficulty. This comes after tweets of Plaatjies boasting of having been afforded the opportunity of traveling around the world since the age of 12. In her tweets Plaatjies also stated that she used National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) not out of necessity but simply because she had the ability to. Twitter users are questioning how the daughter of an ambassador qualified for the scheme in the first place?
NSFAS, a bursary scheme funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training for those who do not have the financial means to fund their studies and cannot access bank funding, study loans or bursaries. Some students are making false claims to defraud NSFAS in order to qualify for funding and most of them are students with working parents, who earn a decent salary. However upon registration, the students claim they are being raised by grandparents.
There have been several complaints about NSFAS fraud. The Scheme’s accounts reportedly showed that maladministration within the financial aid scheme resulted in irregular expenditure that amounted to R7.5 billion in 2017 and 2018. The NSFAS administrator Dr. Randall Carolissen told parliament in March that the scheme may not be able to recover up to R2bn worth of wrong payments to wrong students.
NSFAS funds are supposed to be given to the most vulnerable and poor students so that they can access educational opportunities. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds are the most affected by the fraud that is happening at NSFAS. They end up not getting the funds to further their education because the funds are given to people who are not deserving of them. In other words, NSFAS fraudsters are denying other students an opportunity to study.
It’s not fair for the daughter of an ambassador to qualify for NSFAS. I personally know of students who needed the funding but were rejected and similarly ones who did not need them but received it. Greedy students should not apply for NSFAS since they are depriving poor students the right to education. Many students are illegally benefiting through this system while others are suffering.
NSFAS really needs to do a thorough background check before approving the applications that will mitigate these fraudulent situations. The scheme should prioritise the poor and vulnerable students when allocating funding and they must be strict when they are doing background checks on applicants. Those who are committing fraud should be held accountable.