EL court sets date for ‘Manibags’ trial early in new year
The trial of an Eastern Cape student accused of theft after millions were deposited in her account by the state bursary fund begins next month.
On Thursday magistrate Nomthandazo Vabaza set the trial date for January 18.
Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani appeared before Vabaza in connection with the R14m erroneously transferred into her student account on June 1 2017 by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
She stands accused of misusing R818,000 of the windfall before the error was noticed by NSFAS on August 14 2017.
Mani, 29, then a second-year accounting student, was suppose to receive her monthly R1,400 meal allowance, but somehow, when it arrived it was R14,140,000.
Her lawyer, Asanda Pakade, and state prosecuting advocate Luthando Makoyi told Vabaza that they were ready for the trial.
Vabaza told both parties to have a pre-trial conference a week before the trial date to discuss and iron out any conflicts that may arise and potentially cause further delays.
Warning Mani, Vabaza said: “You are out on warning and you are warned to come back at 8.30[am] on January 18 for the start of the trial.
“This is also to allow the state and the defence to sit down for a pretrial conference.”
Court papers detail that the R14,140,000 was transferred at 1.09pm on June 1 last year – and at 2.55pm Mani’s lavish spend- ing spree began.
Within hours, papers further show, Mani is alleged to have spent R20,000 on “prohibited” items including cigarettes and alcohol.
According to the charge sheet, between June 1, when the money landed in her account, and August 14 when the error was picked up, Mani spent R818,469.20 at 48 different merchants in the Eastern Cape, Johannesburg and Centurion.
The document alleges Mani spent R174,631 over a few days at the Checkers Hyper in Centurion.
An amount of R178,923 was spent at Discount World in Fleet Street, East London.
“Prohibited [by NSFAS] items to the value of R286,108.17 were purchased.
“This included alcohol, cigarettes, electrical appliances, bedding, airtime, gift cards, toys and microwaves,” the document reveals. “During each of her purchases over the period, she was provided with a receipt that showed her current balance.”
BACK TO BASICS: Sibongile Mani talks to her lawyer, Asanda Pakade, shortly after making a brief appearance at the East London magistrate's court on Thursday.