No Jail Time For 'NSFAS Millionaire' Sibongile Mani After Spending R800k

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The so-called NSFAS millionaire Sibongile Mani will not face jail time. The former NSFAS-funded students erroneously received R14 million instead of R1,400 and embarked on a spending spree. 


Sibongile Mani, the Walter Sisulu University student who mistakenly received R14 million from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) instead of R1,400 for food allowance, successfully appealed her initial five-year sentence for theft. 

The East London Regional Court convicted Mani in March 2022 for spending nearly R800,000 on various items within two months. Instead of serving jail time, the court granted her a wholly suspended five-year sentence, provided she avoids being convicted of theft and fraud again. 

As part of the conditions, Mani must undergo three years of correctional supervision, engaging in 576 hours of community service and attending counselling. She is also restricted from leaving her hometown, Komani, without approval from correctional services.

Acting judge in the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda, Sally Collett set aside the previous sentence that was imposed by the regional court and replaced it with three years of correctional supervision and 576 hours (about three and a half weeks) of community service without compensation at a community institution.

While it would be undesirable to understate the behaviour of Mani, which was unquestionably the result of conscious and calculated decision-making, it is doubtful whether incarceration would satisfy the interests of justice

Who Paid The NSFAS Money To Mani?

According to NSFAS, they did not initiate any criminal proceedings against Mani, stating that there was no justification for such actions. Kagisho Mamabolo, former spokesperson for NSFAS, remarked, "It was those who were concerned about their R800k who subsequently took her to court. They have their own reasons for doing so."

They clarified that it incurred no financial loss during the incident, revealing that an internal audit review of its systems and controls, conducted when the issue surfaced, confirmed the absence of any financial losses. 

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

NSFAS highlighted that Intellimali was the only entity experiencing financial loss in connection to the case, attributing it to weaknesses in Intellimali's controls and systems that led to the erroneous payment made to Mani.

Intellimali, a service provider for Walter Sisulu University in distributing NSFAS allowances, mistakenly transferred R14 million to Mani's account in 2017, when she was only supposed to receive R1,400. Mani proceeded to spend approximately R800,000.

NSFAS further stated that the incident resulted in reputational damage to the organisation, which they attributed to inaccurate reporting by the media and Parliament.

The company responsible for allocating funds to university students, Intellimali, attributed the erroneous payment to a systems error caused by a technical glitch or a hacker, and could not identify the responsible party. 

Mani’s Moving 

In 2023, Mani had run for the position Treasurer General at WSI. Despite being elected as treasurer of the WSU Eastern Cape convocation committee, Mani was deemed ineligible for the position in April due to her criminal activities.

Suggested Article:

Higher Education Minister at the launch of the NSFAS bank account

NSFAS has been disbursing funds for the 2023 academic year but has been experiencing some delays. NSFAS funding goes beyond just paying your fees with allowances covering other student needs.


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