- The Hawks have arrested 6 UNISA and SAASTA officials for allegedly attempting to defraud a bursary system
- The officials appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria on Monday
- The syndicate is thought to have defrauded UNISA and SAASTA to the tune of R1.7 million
The Hawks arrested six people affiliated with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) for allegedly creating ghost students to defraud a bursary system.
The six suspects appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria on Monday. The suspects were granted bail.
The syndicate is thought to have defrauded UNISA and SAASTA to the tune of R1.7 million over the last two years.
Briefly.co.za discovered that the Hawks said Thandie Esbie, a payroll administrator at UNISA, created ghost students on the internal system which was used to defraud UNISA and SAASTA.
SAASTA uncovered the fraudulent activity after conducting a routine forensic audit. The results of the audit were handed over to the Haws for further investigation.
Group executive of the National Research Foundation (NRF) which administers SAASTA, Dr Beverley Damonse, said one of the other accused had been an employee of SAASTA. The employee is thought to have created ghost workers and collected their salaries.
Damonse said the employee resigned after the forensic audit.
The Hawks arrested Esbie at the UNISA campus on Friday, the other five suspects were arrested at their homes. The matter has been postponed until May 16 for further investigation.
Gauteng Hawks head, Major General Prince Mokotedi praised the investigation team and said the Hawks were committed to fighting corruption in all spheres of society.
Mokotedi urged the public to join the fight against corruption by reporting any suspicious activity to the elite crime-fighting unit.
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