The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has distanced itself from what it calls 'misleading reports' on its involvement in the conviction and subsequent sentencing of Sibongile Mani.
Dubbed the 'NSFAS millionaire', Mani, a student at the Walter Sisulu University, made headlines after R14 million was deposited into her student account by mistake. According to the National Prosecuting Authority, Mani went on a 76-day spending spree, splurging over R800 000 on several prohibited items which included 11 blankets, nine bath sheets, various shorts for men, a variety of alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, 24 jackets and handbags.
In a statement posted on its social media accounts, NSFAS said it was disappointed at the inaccurate and irresponsible reports.
NSFAS spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo, said notwithstanding the reputational damage this incident has caused, NSFAS has not suffered any financial loss due to the incident.
"When the incident came to light, NSFAS commissioned an internal audit review of its systems and controls and confirmed that, indeed, no financial loss was suffered. The outcome of this review is on record," he said.
Mamabolo said investigations were also conducted by Walter Sisulu University and the Department of Higher Education and Training.
"The facts have revealed that only the entity that suffered financial loss due to the weakness in internal controls and systems that led to this incident was Intellimali, a service provider appointed by WSU. We wish to confirm that NSFAS did not institute any criminal proceedings against the student as there was no basis for it to do so," he said.
Mamabolo said NSFAS was approached to furnish the Department of Correctional Services with a Victim Impact Assessment Report, which he said was submitted on March 14, 2022.
"In this report, NSFAS reaffirmed its position on the matter," he said.
Mani was sentenced to five years imprisonment last week in the East London Regional Court. However, her legal team requested to appeal the sentencing, and she is due back in court on April 11.