R70000bursary money SWINDLE

Alex Matlala and Chester Makana

Alex Matlala and Chester Makana

Two well-off directors of a troubled rural university have been suspended on full pay after it was found that they had channelled bursary money to their own children.

The University of Venda's acting director of public relations, Rufus Kharidzha, and the director of finance and planning, Tendani Ramulongo, were suspended on Friday for fraud and corruption.

Kharidzha and Ramulongo are accused of fraudulently channelling bursary money to the tune of R70000's to their daughters.

The officials' fraudulent activities came to light when the Limpopo university's managers ordered PricewaterhouseCooper in Polokwane to undertake an internal audit three weeks ago.

The firm found that the transactions were illegal and that both Kharidzha and Ramulongo were aware that it was against university policy to channel funds to their daughters.

The firm also said the recipients of the bursaries did not qualify for them because their parents were well-off and could afford the fees.

The funds, from Xstrata and the South African Reserve Bank,were intended for students who could not afford tuition fees.

The university's legal adviser, Lidovha Nanga, said the directors were asked to give "reasons and show cause " a fortnight ago as to why they should not be suspended.

They were expected to respond within four days.

"But it seems they were unable to defend their case, leaving the management with no option but to suspend them," he said.

Nanga said the suspension was part of the university's campaign to root out corruption in the institution and to make sure no similar cases took place.

"We will leave no stone unturned in our quest to bring corrupt officials to book and restore the dignity of the institution to what it was," he said.

Kharidzha and Ramulongo would be expected to attend a disciplinary hearing at the university within 21 days, he said.

Azanian Students Congress chairman Matome Montsha welcomed the suspensions.

"As student leadership we hope this will pave the way for many poor students who were unable to get bursaries owing to the behaviour of people such as Kharidzha and Ramulongo."

Monthsa said maladministration disadvantaged many students at the university.

Attempts to get comment from Kharidzha and Ramulongo were unsuccessful since their phones were switched off.