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NSFAS concerned about ‘false’ reporting

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

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

Published Apr 1, 2022

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has voiced its concern and disappointment at what it called inaccurate, irresponsible and misleading media reports regarding its alleged involvement in the conviction and sentencing of Sibongile Mani.

The scheme has said contrary to media reports it did not suffer any financial loss due to this incident.

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“NSFAS had, when the incident came to light, commissioned an internal audit review of its systems and controls and confirmed that indeed no financial loss was suffered.

“The outcome of this review is on record,” said NSFAS.

The scheme said investigations were also conducted by Walter Sisulu University and the Department of Higher Education.

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“The facts have revealed that the only entity that suffered financial loss due to the weakness in internal controls and systems that led to this incident was Intellimali, a service provider appointed by Walter Sisulu University,” said NFSAS

The scheme further said it did not institute any criminal proceedings against the student as there was no basis for it to do so.

Additionally according to NSFAS it was approached to furnish the Department of Correctional Services with a Victim Impact Assessment Report, which was duly submitted on “March 14, 2022. In this report, NSFAS reaffirmed its position on the matter as articulated above,” said NSFAS.

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Mani was sentenced to five years imprisonment for spending more than R800 000 which was erroneously deposited into her NFSAS student account, but her lawyers have launched an appeal against the conviction and sentence.

And according to the National Prosecuting Authority the appeal will be heard on April 11. The State said it would oppose the appeal and Mani remained out on bail.

In Parliament chairperson of the select committee on education and technology, sports, arts and culture, Elleck Nchabeleng, noted the judgment in the matter.

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Nchabeleng said the conviction needed to serve as a lesson to Mani that theft did not pay.

“However, the committee calls on all those who are concerned to provide support to the student and that she be allowed to finish her studies,” she said.

Nchabeleng said it would be preferable if the sentence would include an option to enter into debt acknowledgement with Intellimali and possibly to undergo a communal sentence.

Meanwhile, well-known South African businessman Malcom X yesterday pledged R500 000 toward the repayment of the R818 000 spent by Mani.

He made this pledge on his instagram account when Mani was sentenced by East London Regional Court magistrate Twanette Olivier.

Malcolm X said he would make the funds available to Mani who had accidentally used part of the R14 million that was transferred to her bank account.

“I urge responsible entrepreneurs to donate the other R318 000 to round up the R818 000 that she accidentally used for herself and other students. #StudentChallenge,” he said.

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