Johannesburg – An accounting student who was mistakenly credited with R14million in her NSFAS student account at the Walter Sisulu University, and who spent over R818,000 of the funds, has been convicted of theft in the East London Regional Court.
The student, Sibongile Mani, 31, who was also reportedly a student leader, spent over R818,000 of the funds when R14 million was mistakenly credited to her account.
She spent over R800,000 on alcohol, cigarettes, blankets, clothes for men, jackets, handbags, furniture, beauty products and groceries at a supermarket, in a period of two months.
She also reportedly spent the money at 48 retail stores in different towns.
Her monthly stipend for food from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme was R1,400.
She did not testify to her crimes, denied wrongdoing, but admitted to spending the money.
Magistrate Twanette Olivier found Mani had spent the money in different towns, which she concluded, was proof that the student had planned the theft.
She found that the student knew that her actions were unlawful.
NPA Eastern Cape spokesperson Anelisa Ngcakani said Mani had never spent her R1,400 stipend on prohibited items such as alcohol, prior to the R14 million that was deposited into her student account.
“However, she spent the R800,000 on a number of prohibited items, which include 11 blankets, nine bath sheets, various shorts for men, a variety of alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, 24 jackets and handbags.
“She also spent the money in different towns, which was proof that she had planned the theft.
“The court found that the above matters and the fact that she was a student activist who knew and understood the processes of student financial aid, demonstrated that she deliberately committed the theft and knew that what she was doing was wrong,” Ngcakani said.
Last October, the Walter Sisulu University student failed in her bid to have her theft case thrown out of court.
Her defence attorney, Asanda Pakade, had brought the application to have the case discharged in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which allows the accused to be discharged if the court believes there is no evidence the accused committed the offence, or may return a verdict of not guilty. The application was dismissed by Olivier.
The NPA said the court had relied on the state’s evidence after Mani exercised her right to remain silent by not testifying in her own trial.
It said senior Advocate Luthando Makoyi and the Hawks’ Colonel Zane Johnson had done a good job to secure the conviction.
Mani is expected to be sentenced in March and will return to court on March 8 for pre-sentence appearance. She remains out on bail.