News / South Africa

Vicky Abraham
2 minute read
31 Aug 2017
5:00 am

The big-spending student who had R14m ‘mistakenly’ deposited in her account

Vicky Abraham

University says she has to pay back more than R800k, no matter how long it takes.

Walter Sisulu University Nelson Mandela Drive Campus in Mthatha. Picture via WSU on Facebook.

Before her golden life – courtesy of a R14 million erroneous payment into her account – ended, a Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student blew about R818 000 of the money on nights at a champagne club, expensive clothes, an iPhone, a handbag, new hairstyles and manicures.

In less than five months, Sibongile Mani, a student at WSU’s East London campus, was a frequent visitor to the extravagant OHbrigado Champagne Bar.

She also allegedly threw a baby shower for her friend one night at the club, as well as arranging a house party for her sister’s birthday.

Mani came into the spotlight when someone picked up one of her shopping receipts, which showed the available balance on her Intellicard debit card, administered by Intellimali, was R13 659 249.13, and posted the photo on social media.

Mani should have been paid a monthly food allowance of R1 400 as part of her financial support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), but the amount deposited had an extra four zeroes on the end.

Intellimali, which pays out student grants and support money, has withdrawn the balance and closed the account for investigation.

NSFAS spokesperson Siphe Matomela said they had requested an official report from the university.

“We do not know where the R14 million came from. We do not know whether it was taken from the funds NSFAS disbursed to the university, or if it was taken from the university’s own funds.”

According to SA Students’ Congress WSU branch chairperson Zolile Zamisa and the students’ representative council’s Samkele Mqai, the R14.1 million could have benefited 976 students, as their yearly allowance is just R14 000.

Attempts to contact Mani were unsuccessful.

WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said the varsity was investigating a fraud case, as debit cards issued to students on financial aid can only be used at specific stores.

“She has to pay back the money, it doesn’t matter how long it will take”, added Tukwayo.

Intellimali CEO Michael Ansell said an investigation was under way and legal action would be taken against the student.

There are claims Mani reported the matter to the SRC, but no action was taken. Mqai denied this, saying “she did not report this to us”. – vicky@citizen.co.za