staff lose R1m in univen scam

THREE senior officials of the University of Venda have allegedly ripped off unsuspecting staff members of a combined R1million with an unregistered micro loan scheme on campus.

THREE senior officials of the University of Venda have allegedly ripped off unsuspecting staff members of a combined R1million with an unregistered micro loan scheme on campus.

The officials apparently offered loans to low-income earners at the university and then deducted the repayments, with exorbitant interest, from their salaries without any garnishee orders.

The scheme, which has been going for the past three years, allegedly operated from the office of one of the managers in the finance department.

The manager is among the three officials implicated in the money-lending scandal.

The scheme was uncovered recently when some of the victims complained to university management that they had lost their bonuses to the owners of the two loan schemes - Big Five and Panamana.

One of the victims told Sowetan that his loan application was processed from an office in the university's finance department, though it was for a private loan scheme.

He said he became aware that the scheme was illegal only last week when the university warned staff members to stay away from the scheme.

"An official in that office printed a form for me. I applied and got the loan after a few days," one of the victims said.

Another victim said one of the companies deducted his whole bonus package last month though he had been servicing the loan throughout the year.

University spokesperson Takalani Dzaga confirmed that Big Five and Panamana had deducted money from some of the workers' salaries, but claimed it was for an investment club and not a cash loan scheme.

But he confirmed that the scheme was not approved by the university and had since been stopped.

According to documents in Sowetan 's possession, the two companies offered cash loan services.

Sowetan also understands that the owners of the schemes authorised loan applications and deductions.

The law requires micro-lenders to register with the national credit regulator.

Dzaga conceded that the two entities were not registered with the NCR "because they are an investment club".

He said the university was not aware that the schemes offered financial services, but could not explain why the deductions were effected if this was against the university's policy.

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