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

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Bonolo Sekudu

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.

SPEND­ING SPREE

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.”

GOGO’S DIS­AP­POINT­MENT

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

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