Sibongile Mani File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Sibongile Mani File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

’Millionaire’ NSFAS student still denies theft charge, but court application dismissed

By Logan Marshall Time of article published Oct 20, 2021

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Cape Town – Arrested in May 2018 after R14 million was deposited into her National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) account due to a technical glitch, Sibongile Mani has maintained her innocence.

This is despite the 30-year-old admitting in the East London Regional Court she went on a spending spree with the money which had been deposited into her account on 1 June, 2017, with R820 000 spent at 48 merchants in 73 days. The then accounting student was meant to receive only her monthly R1 400 food allowance, after having signed an agreement with the NSFAS.

Yesterday, the Walter Sisulu University student had her application to have her theft case discharged refused by the court, Times Live reported.

Mani’s 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.

During closing arguments the State prosecutor, Luthando Makoyi, told the magistrate, Twanet Olivier, that Mani admitted to spending the money at merchants in the Eastern Cape, Johannesburg and Pretoria. He said Mani should be convicted of theft because she knowingly spent money that was not hers, News24 reported.

Pakade had argued that it was not a case of theft “beyond reasonable doubt’’, because there was no intention on his client’s part to obtain R14 million, nor to permanently deprive the NSFAS of its property.

Outside the court, Pakade said: "It's just a temporary inconvenience. We are still very much optimistic about our case, very much confident.’’

The magistrate postponed the matter to November 4.

Last year, former SA Revenue Service executive Randall Carolissen told Parliament that up to R2 billion in student financial scheme payments made in error to “wrong students” might never be recovered at a time when thousands struggle to get tertiary education funding.

IOL

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