Legal fraternity warns NSFAF against Name and Shame initiative

Tujoromajo Kasuto

People’s Litigation Centre (PLC) is warning the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) against its intent of publishing the names of beneficiaries or defaulters who have been unable or have not settled their debts with the Fund.

PLC says concerned students and student organisations have approached the centre to mitigate the situation and deliberate on the way forward. “It has been brought to the attention of the Centre by student organisations and beneficiaries of the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) of its intention to publish personal information about beneficiaries in local newspapers.”

PLC notes that the intended actions by NSFAF may, among other things, violate the privacy of beneficiaries and may open up the can of worms of defamation suits against the Fund. PLC further notes that their lawyers are consulting with various student organizsations, students and the Fund’s beneficiary to determine the possibility of legal intervention.

In addition, Kadhila Amoomo Legal Practitioners, in a social media post yesterday said if the Fund wishes to disclose shared information to the public, as best practice the Fund should first seek the written consent from the person that provided the information, in this case being the beneficiaries the Fund wants to name and shame.

The Fund yesterday informed the public that it will be publishing the names of all of its defaulters in the newspapers on a weekly basis, which will be followed by the appropriate legal actions. Furthermore, they encouraged all defaulters whom they have communicated to via text messages but failed to engage the Fund to contact them before the commencement of the mass publication, which they say will be on 25 October.

According to an article in the Namibian dated 26 June, NSFAF is targeting more than 130 000 debt defaulters. NSFAF is entitled to demand repayment of the loan from the beneficiaries within six months from the date of the end of the final academic year wherein they completed their studies and obtained their qualifications. When the beneficiaries either attained employment, received an income, abandoned or canceled their studies for which the loan was granted, or they canceled the loan.

Also when a student changed from the approved institution to another or changed his/ her qualification, without prior written approval from the Fund, they then also breached the contract.

Lastly, if the Fund is not satisfied with the beneficiaries’ results, and canceled or withdrew the loan, the total amount expended by the Fund would become repayable.

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