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NSFAS fraudster Sibongile Mani awaits her fate after pleading for a suspended sentence

Sibongile Mani during her court appearance. Picture: File

Sibongile Mani during her court appearance. Picture: File

Published Mar 30, 2022

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Durban - Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani, convicted of stealing NSFAS funds after R14 million was mistakenly credited to her account in 2017, will hear her fate on Wednesday.

This came after Mani’s lawyer pleaded for a suspended sentence, instead of jail time for his client.

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Asanda Pakade addressed the East London Regional Court on Tuesday in mitigation of sentence for education honours degree student Sibongile Mani.

Mani was found guilty of theft relating to R14 m which was erroneously put into her account by Intellimali, a service provider for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

According to reports, the student leader spent over R818 000 of the funds before the error was picked up.

She spent the money on alcohol, cigarettes, blankets, clothes for men, handbags, furniture, beauty products and groceries at a supermarket, over a period of two months.

She also reportedly spent the money at 48 retail stores in different towns.

Mani’s lawyer said it wouldn't be in the interest of justice to imprison his client. Phakade further stated that Mani was pursuing her post-graduate in education, and if imprisoned there will be no one to look after her two children.

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Phakade also told the court that her family is dependent on her to become a breadwinner and better the situation at home. He argued that Mani showed remorse and she was young when she committed the offence.

The state told the court that the offence was extremely serious, and that at least 48 students could’ve benefited from the money spent by Mani.

Advocate Jacques Cilliers said: “She was well aware every time she spent, showing the lavish intent she had. She abused the position she had with the university and NSFAS. What she did was not a spur-of-the-moment thing, it was premeditated.”

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Magistrate Twanett Olivier reserved judgment for Wednesday.

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