A R80 million student housing fraud was discovered at the university
Blade Nzimande, South Africa’s higher education minister, has been made aware of allegations of corruption at one of the country’s public colleges. Corruption in the higher education sector has long been a problem, particularly when it comes to housing.
At the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), an astounding sum of R80 million allegedly was obtained through a student housing fraud. Employees at UKZN and former members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) are accused of earning R80 million by taking advantage of the university and its owners.
In a statement, the EFF Students Command (EFFSC) has revealed:
“In an effort to bully and intimidate weak landlords into giving them money in the form of cash, the criminal organization contacts landlords and/or private student housing providers outside of university due processes.”
Since apartheid was abolished in 1994, millions of South Africans who did not previously have access to this chance have been able to work in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) industry. Our institutions have not been designed to handle such a big number of students so soon after apartheid, even if the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) admits that this is a great start in the right direction for the country.
Scams involving student housing are frequent, in part because it can be difficult to find adequate housing at South African universities, which makes many students and their parents angry and desperate.
When it was revealed that private housing providers might register to house students, NSFAS tried to address the issue.
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) intends to guarantee that students who are receiving NSFAS funding have access to appropriate housing while they are enrolled in classes. A student housing portal, which has been in the works to facilitate this, is now accessible.
In order to allow students to reside close to their place of study, the government bursary program also offers housing benefits to individuals who are sponsored through the program.
Numerous students who live far from the school they are enrolled in might not be able to consistently attend lessons if it weren’t for the NSFAS housing subsidies.
In regards to the scam at UKZN, the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, said:
“Investigations of unethical behavior occurring at universities, notably at the University of KwaZulu Natal, are supported by the Department. Law enforcement authorities are currently engrossed in the investigations; after they are finished, I will request an official report.”
The Minister further stated that officials would continue to keep an eye on any allegations pertaining to accommodations and that the Department appreciates whistleblowers’ courage in coming forward to report any wrongdoings they may be aware of.
The university has informed the Department that a hotline has been set up to promote greater anonymous reporting.
The Minister added, “In addition, the Department will continue working with the heads of Safety and Security in all our universities, and ensure they receive the support to assist with reporting and monitoring crime at our universities.”
“A subsequent workshop is scheduled, among other things, to help participants better understand the problems with university housing and what further assistance the universities need to maintain honest and ethical housing administration.”
The university has a stringent zero-tolerance policy for corruption, but no further remarks will be made, according to the institution, because of how sensitive the inquiry is.