Convicted student leader Sibongile Mani has escaped jail time for now as her lawyers have launched an appeal of the conviction and sentence.
Mani was sentenced to five years imprisonment for spending over R800 000, which was erroneously deposited into her student account.
But what lead up to today’s events? IOL gives a timeline to the events leading up to the sentencing and appeal.
A technical glitch led to funding administrative company Intellimali erroneously transferring R14m into Mani’s account.
It is believed that Mani spent R820 000 at 48 merchants in 73 days. She was meant to receive only her monthly R1 400 food allowance.
Intelimali opens a theft case against Mani, saying that instead of reporting the error, she spent the money.
Mani was arrested by the Serious Commercial Crime Unit of the Hawks.
Intellimali director Roy Jackson told the court, the Public Protector, auditors Ernst & Young, and the Department of Higher Education and Training investigated how Mani got the R14 million. They could not find out who was at fault.
Jackson told the court the erroneous payment was due to a systems error that was caused by a technical glitch or a hacker.
The theft trial against the university student hit a snag after it was postponed again in the East London Magistrate's Court.
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.
The magistrate postponed the matter to November 4.
Mani is sentenced to five years imprisonment. Mani’s defence team expressed their intention to appeal the conviction and the sentence. The case was provisionally postponed to April 11 for the appeal to be heard.
A number of South Africans have come forward to support her.