How student became an overnight millionaire
How the life of the accounting student who mistakenly received R14 million from NSFAS went from a dream come true to a nightmare
SIBONGILE Mani (27) found herself an overnight millionaire when R14 million was mistakenly deposited into her account by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) recently. The Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student made headlines when she was outed by fellow students after she spent some of the money.
News of the error broke out after a fellow student discovered an abnormal balance of more than R13 million from a store till slip belonging to Sibongile.
It is reported Sibongile, who is a member of the Pan Africanist Movement of South Africa (Pasma), went on a shopping spree, buying expensive bags, weaves, alcohol and designer clothes. She also threw lavish parties for her friends.
Her lifestyle change was too obvious not to notice and the authorities were notified. It was discovered that she had already spent R818 00 of the money.
AUTHORITIES STEP IN
The initial sum that was supposed to be deposited into Sibongile's account by NSFAS is R1 400 for food and books.
But Sibongile now faces legal action and NSFAS wants her to pay back every cent she used.
WSU spokesperson, Yonela Tukwayo, was quoted by a local publication as saying, “We are also looking at the NSFAS rules of which she signed an agreement to adhere to the rules in terms of how that money should be used. So the student will be liable to repay every cent of the money spent even if it takes 20 years to do so.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, has come out to lambast those responsible for the administrative error.
In its defense, Intellimali, which is responsible for administering payments to students, say they take responsibility for the error, however, they maintain that Sibongile had the responsibility to report to authorities when she realised the error.
The remaining money has since been withdrawn from her account.
LIVING IN ISOLATION
Sibongile has isolated herself since she was outed by her fellow students and refuses to talk to the media.
Student leader, Vusi Mahlangu, told Move! that she was not in good shape.
“She has missed tests as she can’t walk in the streets without being harassed,” he says.
This follows a failed attempt by Pasma to hold a press briefing to set the record straight.
But other students were not interested in hearing what Sibongile had to say.
In a video published by a local publication, students could be heard shouting that she must pay back the money.
“The matter has become very serious and she can’t speak to the media now without the advice of her legal team,” Vusi says.
“We have learned that Intellimali has opened a case and that the police are still investigating. The matter has become more sensitive and this has made Sibongile more wary about interacting with the media.”
Sibongile’s grandmother, Nombulelo Mani (67) was quoted by a Sunday newspaper saying Sibongile should have used the money wisely.
“At least we would have been able to say this is what she did with the money. I worked many years to raise her and now she wastes money on such things,” she said.
It seems the media aren't the only ones failing to reach Sibongile. Her grandmother was quoted saying she can’t seem to get hold of her granddaughter.
Sibongile was raised by her grandmother from the age of six years. The pensioner lives in a small house in Queenstown.
While she was quick to voice out her disappointment in her granddaughter, she also pleaded with the authorities to forgive her.
WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN
There are opposing views doing the rounds on social media on how the matter should be dealt with.
Some people are angry, accusing Sibongile of being a thief, while others are saying she should be forgiven because she did not go out to steal the money, instead the authorities should be blamed for this error.
I WORKED MANY YEARS TO RAISE HER AND NOW SHE WASTES MONEY ON SUCH THINGS
Sibongile Mani mistakenly received R14 million in her account instead of R1 400, which she spent on weaves, designer clothes and lavish parties