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NSFAS thief Sibongile Mani inspired by greed, says court, but social media says jail time is harsh

Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani convicted of theft. Picture: Twitter

Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani convicted of theft. Picture: Twitter

Published Mar 30, 2022

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Pretoria - Social media users expressed their disapproval with the five year jail sentence handed to Walter Sisulu University education student and convicted thief, Sibongile Mani, who was erroneously credited with R14 million in her National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) student account.

This comes after the East London Regional Court Magistrate Twanette Olivier sentenced Mani to five years behind bars for stealing R818 000 of the NSFAS funds in 2017.

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Olivier found that Mani’s actions, in which the former student leader spent over R818 000 in about 80 days, had been inspired by greed, not need.

She spent over R800 000 from the R14m which had been mistakenly credited to her student account before the error was picked up.

Mani, who is a mother of two and who is now 31, spent the money on expensive alcohol, cigarettes, blankets, clothes for men, handbags, furniture, beauty products and groceries at a supermarket, over a period of two months.

After her sentencing, celebrity lawyer and founder of #CountryDuty, Tumi Sole, wrote on Twitter asking for Mani’s family representative details.

A couple of Twitter users replied on his post, indicating that they will assist in getting the contacts.

The plan is to gather strong legal minds and appeal the sentence.

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The NPA said her legal team would appeal the conviction and sentence and the matter had been postponed for later in April.

Controversial poet Ntsiki Mazwai and other users insisted that Mani did not act alone, and that it was unfair to only punish her, the person who made an error in depositing the money should also be held accountable too, she said.

Another user acknowledged that Mani made mistakes, but sending her to prison was destroying her future. He suggested that community service will be appropriate.

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Mani’s representative Asanda Pakade also suggested community service as a punishment but this was rejected by the court who found that Mani did not show remorse, but regret.

She had also declined to testify during the trial.

Unfortunately the argument fell flat and Olivier said that a suspended sentence was not suitable and warned of “misplaced pity” and that Mani was not a victim.

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“The court has a duty to impose a fearlessly appropriate and fair sentence, even if such a sentence would not satisfy public opinion,” Olivier said.

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