The Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund is in court fighting to have a former employee return more than N$500 000 he allegedly transferred to a student.
NSFAF wants the High Court to compel its former payments officer, Tomas Konghola to pay back N$529 250. The civil hearing is ongoing before High Court Judge Boas Usiku.
The fund is claiming Konghola fraudulently made amendments to its payment requisition list by changing identification numbers, student numbers, and courses of students. He further changed bank account numbers, replacing them with account numbers belonging to a certain Nelson Sheefeni under the guise that he is a NSFAF-funded student.
“The defendant would then attach the aforesaid students’ list on the instructions to the plaintiff’s bank, that is, Bank Windhoek, Kudu branch, in order for the latter to effect payments,” said the fund.
An investigation report compiled by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) indicates that payment of N$355 250 was made to Sheefeni’s First National Bank account between 21 October 2016 and 18 April 2019.
The second payment of N$87 000 was made to Sheefeni’s Nedbank account on 6 December 2017. The last payment that Konghola made was on 25 October 2017 directed to Sheefeni’s Standard Bank account.
According to NSFAF, he was not authorised to make the payments and knew that he was committing fraud when he accessed the interim payment system and made the changes.
Konghola, who has been at the fund since 2014, resigned on 25 March 2021 following disciplinary proceedings against him.
He has since denied the allegations.
He claims that it was not within his duties to give instructions to NSFAF’s bank to process and make payments to any student.
“… all the information that was entered into the payment requisitions was obtained from the files from the student care centre,” said Konghola.
He said he has no idea how he is being linked to the fraudulent activities by the ACC report. He claims his supervisor at the time, Margaret Hofeni, and senior management who were in charge of verification and authorisation were never questioned – (the ACC report indicates that several officers, managers, executives, and acting CEO Kennedy Kandume were interviewed).
“They only highlight the loopholes and weaknesses in the system from the student care centre to the end of the process at the finance division,” said Konghola.
According to him, there is no evidence that he was the only person who dealt with Sheefeni’s file. In addition, during his employment at NSFAF, he never had face-to-face interactions with any student.
Francois Bangamwabo represents NSFAF while Mbanga Siyomunji is representing Konghola.
Caption: (Nasfaf) Seeking refund… The Namibia Students Financial Fund head office in Windhoek.