The vice-chancellor of the embattled University of Zululand, Professor Xoliswa Matose, received a hefty R478 000 performance bonus in December although there was no approved policy for it.

She was the acting vice-chancellor at the time and was receiving an annual salary of R2.9-million.

Matose, who was appointed vice-chancellor in April, was the only staff member to benefit from such a windfall, according to a reliable source. The Mail & Guardian has seen a document indicating the amount that was paid out to Matose as a performance bonus.

She has been criticised by staff and students for jetting off to the United States recently – while the university was shut down following staff protests over low salaries.

The cost of her business class return flight to Washington, as well as a domestic flight within the US, was R95 000.

She failed to appear before Parliament last week to discuss governance issues because she was in the US.

Matose has also come under fire for opting to live in a palatial, R5-million house in the seaside resort town of Mtunzini on the North Coast, bought with university funds.