NSFAS chair Khosa on special leave amid kickbacks scandal

As calls for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson Ernest Khosa to resign mount after leaked recordings alleging his involved in corruption, he has been granted leave of absence.

Corruption allegations probed

Khosa, according to NSFAS, voluntarily asked the board – which met on Wednesday ahead of its scheduled meeting with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Blade Nzimande – to place him on special leave while it investigates the allegations against him.

Nzimande was immediately informed of Khosa’s notice for special leave, which was subsequently approved. 

According to NSFAS spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi, Khosa attended only the start of the meeting of the board with Nzimande before being excused.

Khosa has denied receiving any money.

“The board chairperson took the board of NSFAS into confidence regarding the impact of these allegations against NSFAS, NSFAS beneficiaries … and family. These includes threats to his life and that of his family.

Calls for resignations

“The NSFAS chairperson assured the board that he has not received any financial gratification meant for his personal use, that of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and the SACP.

“The NSFAS board welcomed the notice and the grounds expressed by the Board chairperson to take a leave of absence,” NSFAS said in a statement.

Calls for Khosa and Nzimande to resign intensified after the Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) published recordings it alleges were of meetings between Khosa and a representative of a service provider allegedly revealing the payments to the minister, chair and SACP.

Alleged kickbacks

Outa alleges that Khosa, Nzimande and South African Communist Party received millions in kickbacks.

“The voice recordings of two meetings between Khosa and a representative of a service provider which reveal how service providers allegedly paid millions of rand in kickbacks to Nzimande and Khosa, as well as at least R1-million to the SACP.

This was done in return for tenders and protection for service providers,” said Outa in its statement.

Nzimande has denied any involvement in corruption, saying he will subject himself to all necessary investigation to prove his innocence.

Leave’s not admission of guilt

NSFAS said leave of absence should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt, but a responsible act to allow the board to investigate allegations against him.

“The board would like to reiterate that Mr Khosa’s leave of absence should not be interpreted as admission of guilt, however, a responsible and conscious decision to advance good corporate governance, transparency and accountability,” said NSFAS in a statement.

NSFAS said it will immediately appoint an independent legal firm to look into the veracity of the allegations against Khosa.

“The legal firm will be expected to report back to the board within 30 days upon their appointment by NSFAS.

The NSFAS board will soon announce the independent legal firm that will conduct these investigations,” said NSFAS in a statement.

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