No jail time for Nsfas thief Sibongile Mani, court rules
Mani made headlines after spending R800 000 of the R14 million she erroneously received from Nsfas.
Sibongile Mani in East London on 4 September 2017. Picture: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Lulama Zenzile
Sibongile Mani, the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who spent nearly R800 000 of the R14 million she received into her student account from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), will not be spending any time in jail.
This comes after the Eastern Cape High Court set aside her five-year sentence for theft on Monday.
Mani made headlines after going on a spending spree following an error made by Nsfas in 2017. She was found guilty of theft by the East London Regional Court in March last year.
Magistrate Twanet Olivier sentenced the student to five years in prison for theft, saying the court was of the view that a suspended sentence was “totally inappropriate”.
Last week the high court dismissed Mani’s appeal against her theft conviction but set aside the sentence imposed by the East London regional court on 30 March 2022.
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National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali, said they accept the court’s decision to wholly suspend the five-year jail term imposed on Mani.
“The high court sentenced Mani to a suspended five-year imprisonment term, on condition that she is not convicted of an offence involving fraud or theft during the period of suspension.
“In addition, she has been sentenced to undergo three years of correctional supervision, to perform 576 hours of community service without compensation, at a community institution, to attend regular counselling and rehabilitative programmes offered by the Department of Correctional Services, and to be monitored by a correctional official, as delegated by the Head of Community Corrections in Queenstown (Komani),” Tyali said.
Tyali said that it should also serve as a deterrent to others, reminding the public that it is a crime to use money that “you are not entitled to, even if it was paid into your bank account”.
Prior to the R14 million which was deposited into her account erroneously, she never spent her R1,400 monthly stipend on prohibited items.
Mani made headlines after it was revealed that R14 million in Nsfas funds was mistakenly deposited into her account. Instead of notifying officials of the error, she spent R800 000 on a number of items which included expensive alcohol, blankets, bath sheets, various shorts for men, cigarettes, furniture, beauty products, groceries, jackets and handbags.