Sibongile Mani arrives at the Walter Sisulu University but does not speak about spending over R800 000. Angry fellow students bring traffic to a standstill.Picture: Siyanda Jantjies/ANA
SITHANDIWE VELAPHI

THE Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who made headlines for spending over R800000 from her meal card had to be whisked away by police from rowdy fellow students in East London last night, after refusing to speak about the debacle.

A press conference organised by the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma) descended into a chaos.

The student movement was apparently denied a venue by WSU to hold the press conference. Making matters worse was Pasma’s instruction that Sibongile Mani must not speak to the media.

Mani made headlines across the globe after an amount of R14 million was “erroneously” deposited into her meal allowance card.

By the time this came to the attention of the authorities and her Intellimali card blocked, Mani had spent R818 000.

Hundreds of WSU students turned up to listen to a nervous-looking Mani who kept quiet during the press conference after Pasma told the media she was not ready to speak to the public. This explanation made many WSU students angry.

After the press conference, which was held on the pavement just outside WSU’s College Street campus, Pasma leaders shielded Mani from the media and curious students. Chaos ensued with students bringing traffic to a standstill in East London’s Buffalo and Oxford streets.

Pasma leader and activist Vusi Mahlangu told Independent Media that Mani was not ready to speak to the public about the matter.

“She is not coping ever since the matter became public. This is an innocent student whose privacy has been violated by the university which is supposed to be protecting her,” Mahlangu said.

Pasma’s Vuyo Langeni, who read out a statement prepared by the student movement on the matter, said they wanted to set the record straight and dispel “lies” which he said were peddled by Sasco (South African Students’ Congress).

Langeni was adamant that the university was alerted to the error, “but chose not to act”.

“It is a blue lie that the university was not aware of this. The matter was reported to them by our member (Mani) but they did nothing about it.

“We find it very disingenuous for the spokesperson of the university (Yonela Tukwayo) to go to the public to say she only learnt about the matter recently yet we know they deactivated Mani’s account on August 13 and kept quiet,” said Langeni.

With the investigation looming over Mani’s spending spree, Pasma said it was ready to legally defend her.

Mani faced pressure from fellow students who demanded that she account to them.

Some even asked about her “expensive” weave which she apparently bought using the money deposited into her card.

“Pasma is taking us for granted. They said we must come here to hear Mani’s side of the story, but they are barring her from speaking.

“They want us (Pasma members) to act as if we support Mani whereas we do not,” said a first year engineering student.

Police had to be called to whisk Mani away from students who wanted to hear the Komani-born and second-year accounting student speaking about the matter which has sparked the attention of the public.

Tukwayo said: “The student has been advised by the university that she will remain liable for the money that she has spent. A forensic investigation is under way.”