A former Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) employee has come out to say that he had warned the fund about a payment error that amounted to N$800 000 paid to rejected 17 students but was kicked out of the institution as a result with no follow ups made.
Phius Petrus discloses to this publication that he had been working for over two years as a temporary award officer, IT specialist and system developer.
He says during his tenure; a horde of students had been disgruntled by the lack of payments which compromised their exams.
Legitimate beneficiaries of funds were having their names linked to accounts that were not theirs which caused confusion, Petrus says.
Upon realising the error in the mix-up, Petrus said he had several meetings with management but he was rather threatened instead of making a follow up.
He alleges that some students went to the extent of threatening to fight him due to frustration as a result of non-payments of their promised NSFAF funds.
“It’s what made me understand that I can’t have peace with my managers or supervisors because students were giving me pressure and my managers (were) not taking any action on those students. Instead of them taking action on who paid that wrong amount, they were attacking me for following up,” he says.
Afraid of being beaten up by irate students, Petrus tells this publication that he offered to be relieved of his duties as temporary award officer.
He also says that he was made to lie to the students to create a semblance of normalcy.
He also reveals that all this rot was unfolding under the watch of suspended NSFAF CEO Hilya Nghiwete but has shied from revealing the names of supervisors he reported to.
NSFAF yesterday issued a public statement distancing itself from Petrus without any background information as to why it was doing so.
Says Petrus, “I checked on that post that people forwarded to me and also on their website, but they deleted it after I wrote to them that no, what you are doing (will make me to) even reveal more because that’s not only the (info) that I have.”
“I have many issues and you know about it. You’re putting my name and picture on the statement on the website without making any sense because (you) are just saying this Phius (is) our former employee so nobody should be confused by him. Confused by him regarding what?” he queries.
If by the public statement NSFAF was countering what was being said about the payment errors, Petrus says there has to be evidence to prove that.
“I said guys if you have issues with me, let’s arrange a meeting where we will prove each other that this is what happened. And why are you saying that I am tarnishing your name if it is true?” he queries.
Petrus adds that the fund warned him that if he were to blow the whistle on the payment error, they would not renew his contract which led to his exit.
He also says that NSFAF has lied that it has managed to pay back the students: “I have records of these students and some journalists contacted me yesterday. Their money is not yet sorted and some of them are only paid half but what they are telling the public is that they have managed to pay back all those students.”
Although he wanted to go deeper with investigations on the faulty payments, he alleges that the fund stopped him right in his tracks.
“I went to the bank to get more detail of those receivers of the money but then banks could not allow me because I don’t have a right to obtain that information. NSFAF stopped me and threatened me (against) following up,” he says.
He says that he alerted the University of Namibia to look for details of students who were supposed to have benefited from the money as part of the process of rectifying the error.
Meanwhile NSFAF sources close to this publication have alleged that Petrus was dismissed from duties after the fund discovered he had awarded payments to himself, allegations he has denied.
Petrus said that he had documented proof that management was aware of the erroneous payments, but is only willing to disclose them in the presence of the Namibian Police.
NSFAF acting chief executive officer, Kennedy Kandume did not respond to questions sent to him via email by the time of publication.
The University of Namibia’s communications officer requested time to inquire for more into the matter and see who was involved with the NSFAF inquiry.