Vicky Abraham
2 minute read
1 Sep 2017
5:10 am

R14m bonanza student could face up to 15 years in jail

Vicky Abraham

The money was put into the card in June and Mani burned through R818 000 of it.

Sibongile Mani. Image: Twitter

The party is well and truly over for the Eastern Cape student who went on a spending spree after R14 million was erroneously paid into her account.

Criminal charges of fraud and theft are to be brought against her and she could face up to 15 years in jail.

But how the payment, through electronic transfer company IntelliMali, was made into Sibongile Mani’s student debit card is still a mystery.

She should have been credited with just R1 400 a month to pay for food and books.

There are also questions about how such a massive overpayment remained undetected by the company.

Only after someone picked up one of Mani’s till slips, reflecting a balance of more than R13.6 million, and posted it on social media, was action taken.

The money was put into the card in June and Mani burned through R818 000 of it, splurging on parties at an East London champagne bar, as well as expensive clothes and phones.

IntelliMali said it had voided Mani’s card and would lay charges of “misappropriation of funds”.

The money came from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and was paid to Walter Sisulu University in Port Elizabeth.

The money was then paid over to IntelliMali by the university, which has 18 000 students, each receiving a monthly food and book stipend of R1 400, university spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said.

She added: “IntelliMali has taken responsibility for this loss and absorbed the cost. All students’ allowances are unaffected and will be available in full for the remainder of the year.”

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said IntelliMali’s decision to take legal action against Mani was not enough and it “must also deal with the employees responsible”.

He added: “This debacle is wholly unacceptable and serious action should be taken against all those responsible.”

The Citizen contacted IntelliMali to ask how it failed to detect the error and the transactions from the debit card immediately.

A worker said CEO Michael Ansell had been in meetings all day and referred to its website for a statement from the university.

Criminal lawyer Cliff Alexander said Mani could be convicted of theft.

“If you keep spending funds that are not yours, it means you stole the money and you could be charged with theft … The minimum sentence for such a large amount of money is 15 years.” –