The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board chairperson, Ernest Khosa, has voluntarily tabled a notice of 30 days leave of absence, the government agency announced on Wednesday.
The leave of absence, according to the NSFAS, will enable the board to deal with all the allegations against him as contained in the audio recordings distributed by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).
OUTA is accusing both Khoza and Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, of defrauding NSFAS through kickbacks from service providers.
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The decision taken by Khosa, according to the agency, should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt on his part.
“The Chairperson reiterated to the [NSFAS] board that he had never received any financial gratification for his personal use or facilitated any for the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation or the South African Communist Party (SACP).
“The Board Chairperson also raised concerns about threats that have been made against his life and that of his family,” NSFAS stated.
According to the statement, the board has since informed Nzimande of the leave of notice tabled by the board chairperson.
In terms of the NSFAS Act, the Minister has the fiduciary responsibility to appoint the acting board chairperson in the absence of the chairperson.
Meanwhile, the NSFAS board resolved to appoint an independent legal firm to look into the veracity of the allegations against Mr Khosa.
The legal firm, which is yet to be announced, will be expected to submit its findings within 30 days of their appointment.