Johannesburg, 22 June 2018 – On 22 June 2018, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) began disciplinary proceedings against accused member and former Thuthuka Bursary Fund (TBF) programme manager, Mr Khaya Sithole. During the proceedings, Mr Sithole issued a statement on this and other matters. The Thuthuka Bursary Fund wishes to respond to the statements as they relate to the bursary fund.
TBF Chairman, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, said: “Since inception, SAICA’s Thuthuka Bursary Fund has supported thousands of students who come from poor and working class backgrounds to become chartered accountants. Students are chosen on the basis of their financial need and academic ability. It is now the gold standard of academic and social support, attracting tens of thousands of applications annually along with hundreds of millions of Rands in direct sponsorship, training contracts and ultimately jobs. Wits University, along with eleven other universities, provide guaranteed accommodation, books, food and tuition to students based on a contractual relationship with Thuthuka, knowing that it will pay. Business and government fund Thuthuka and also employ the young CAs(SA) it produces because they respect and trust the standard of the Thuthuka graduates.”
“So when it came to our attention that 129 Wits accounting students had been fraudulently issued letters falsely claiming that they had been awarded Thuthuka bursaries without due process being followed, we immediately initiated an investigation into the matter. This fraudulent act equated to more than R10 752 364 (or R10,7 million) worth of funding per year, which Thuthuka and NSFAS had to then carry through for at least four years. This meant a reduction in available funding for other deserving students who had followed due process of application for financial aid from Thuthuka.”
However, Thuthuka did not want the actions of one individual to negatively affect young students in the midst of their accounting studies, so the Thuthuka trustees unanimously decided to continue funding the students through to completion of their studies.
“For us as the Thuthuka trustees, of critical importance was maintaining the integrity and reputation of the bursary fund. The individual involved was charged and is currently undergoing a disciplinary process. I cannot comment further on the outcome of the case as that is for the disciplinary panel to decide.”
“What I will say is that trust and ethical conduct go to the very heart of what it means to be a CA(SA). As CAs, we are placed in an extraordinary position of trust. If members of our profession fail to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards, our economy and the credibility of our public and private sector institutions will be severely compromised. Where chartered accountants transgress, South Africa rightly expects that they be held to account. Thuthuka supports the actions being taken across the profession and indeed across the country to restore integrity and trust as the cornerstone of our institutions and professions.”
“South Africa suffers from the challenge of insufficient funding in its higher education space, of which SAICA and Thuthuka are aware (hence the funding work of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund). However, just as important as ensuring that our young people are given access to education and economic opportunities, is ensuring that this is always done in an ethical manner. This is the only way to ensure that funding initiatives such as Thuthuka are able to continue receiving support from government and business, both locally and internationally. We need to ensure that we can sustainably fund the African child into the future and maintaining a reputation of trust and integrity is the only way in which we can do so.”
About the Thuthuka Bursary Fund
One of SAICA’s prime goals is to contribute towards strengthening the country’s economy by playing a significant role in transformation and skills development. So in 2002, SAICA launched the Thuthuka Education Upliftment Project (under which the Thuthuka Bursary Fund falls) in order to actively promote transformation in the CA(SA) profession. Thuthuka’s objective is to transform the demographics of the profession to reflect those of the country in terms of race and gender, and provide educational support to African and Coloured learners and students, while simultaneously helping to uplift the communities these learners and students come from.