South Africa | NSFAS administrator under armed protection in wake of nepotism and mismanagement allegations

NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen (Jenni Evans, News24)

NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen (Jenni Evans, News24)

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) administrator Randall Carolissen says he and his wife have had to get armed protection following a slew of allegations of nepotism and misconduct under his administration.

"My reputation can stand on its own luckily, but there are people who work with me and are very good people that are being tarnished and smeared left, right and centre and some of us are going to take action. We are not going to be the recipient of abuse and smear campaigns.

"As we speak, my wife and I are under 24-hour armed protection, that is not right, not while we are trying to serve the country," said Carolissen.

In July, City Press reported the UDM had filed a complaint to the Office of the Public Protector against him accusing him of racism, maladministration and nepotism.

He denied the allegations, saying none of his relatives was employed at NSFAS.

Carolissen was speaking at a briefing on Thursday where Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande briefed the media on the progress of institutions of higher learning during Covid-19.  

Nzimande on allegations against Carolissen

Nzimande came to Carolissen's defence, saying there had been a vast improvement at NSFAS in recent years. 

"Let me say this without fear of contradiction, the state NSFAS was 29 months ago is so vastly different to where NSFAS is now. I want to say that without any contradiction people with different views can hold their views but as the minister responsible for NSFAS I see change," said Nzimande.

"The NSFAS director has done a great job, as minister anyone can come to challenge me. There are many great things I can mention like the setting up of systems although others are not complete. It's not perfect but we must remember that NSFAS is a very complex operation," he added.  

Nzimande also spoke about those who made representations to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology on the allegations at NSFAS  

"Some of the people who have gone and complained to the portfolio committee are people that are being disciplined by NSFAS so they are trying to find another opening.

"That is why Parliament needs to be careful and not allow its platforms to be used by people who are being disciplined and also some of [those] people are going to be handed over to the Hawks for corruption at NSFAS and they are now trying to find another way to discredit the administrator," he said. 

"No one is an angel we are not saying the administrator is an angel but he has done a good job," he added.

Former chief of staff's appointment

On the issue of his former chief of staff, Sibongile Mncwabe, being appointed to a senior position at NSFAS, Nzimande said: "I reject with contempt this idea, that is often pushed by the opposition, that someone who worked as my chief of staff is not supposed to work anywhere in government.

"Yes, Sibongile Mncwabe has been employed by NSFAS and she was my chief of staff she applied and went through the process of being interviewed and if she deserves [the job], she must be employed. 

"This thing of that staff who have been working for ministers are little devils with horns in their heads we must reject that, it's an agenda of the opposition.

"I never sat and discussed her employment that was done by NSFAS. She is a competent lady, she doesn't need me to hold her hand," he added.

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