Sibongile Mani, the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who spent nearly R800,000 of the R14 million the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) erroneously deposited into her student account, won’t be spending time in jail after she successfully appealed her five-year sentence.
Mani was found guilty of theft by the East London Regional Court in March 2022 after she pocketed R14m instead of R1,400 meant for food allowance.
The mother of two splurged over R800,000 on expensive alcohol, cigarettes, blankets, clothes for men, handbags, furniture, beauty products and groceries at a supermarket, over a period of two months.
Instead of serving time, the court handed her a wholly suspended five-year sentence with conditions that she is not convicted for the same offences — theft and fraud.
According to the Daily Dispatch, she was sentenced to three years' correctional supervision on condition that she performs 576 hours of community service and also attend counselling.
She was also ordered not to leave her hometown, Komani, without the approval of correctional services.
Intellimali, the company contracted by NSFAS to allocate funds to university students, said they could not find out who was at fault but said the payment was due to a systems error that was caused by a technical glitch or a hacker.
In March 2023, Mani was elected as treasurer of WSU Eastern Cape convocation committee.
However in April, the university found that she was ineligible for the position due to her crime.