Stu­dent loan ‘mil­lion­aire’ goes to trial

Mani ac­cused of loot­ing nearly R1m from NSFAS

Sowetan - - News - By Malibongwe Dayimani mal­i­bong­[email protected]­patch.co.za

The trial of the East­ern Cape stu­dent ac­cused of theft af­ter mil­lions from the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had been de­posited into her ac­count, will fi­nally kick off next month .

Mag­is­trate Nomthandazo Vabaza yesterday set the trial date for Jan­uary 18.

Walter Sisulu Univer­sity stu­dent Si­bongile Mani ap­peared be­fore Vabaza at the East Lon­don mag­is­trate’s court in con­nec­tion with R14m that was “er­ro­neously” de­posited into her stu­dent ac­count in June 2017.

She stands ac­cused of spend­ing R81, 000 of the money be­fore the er­ror was no­ticed by NSFAS on Au­gust 14, 2017.

The 29-year-old Mani, was sup­posed to re­ceive her monthly R1, 400 meal al­lowance in­stead of the R14m. Her lawyer Asanda Pakade and state prose­cu­tor ad­vo­cate Luthando Makoyi told Vabaza that they both con­cluded study­ing and ex­chang­ing doc­u­ments and 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 po­ten­tially con­flicts that may arise and cause fur­ther delays.

Warn­ing Mani, Vabaza said: “You are out on warn­ing and you are warned to come back at 8.30am on Jan­uary 18 for the start of the trial. This is also to al­low the state and the de­fence to sit down for a pre-trial con­fer­ence.”

Court pa­pers de­tailed that R14 140 000 was trans­ferred at 1.09pm on June 1, last year and at 2.55pm Mani be­gan her spend­ing spree. Within hours she is al­leged to have spent R20 000 on “pro­hib­ited” items such as 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 dis­cov­ered, Mani had spent R818 469 20 at 48 mer­chants in the East­ern Cape, Jo­han­nes­burg and Cen­tu­rion.

The court doc­u­ment al­leges that Mani spent R174 631 within a “few days” at Check­ers Hy­per in Cen­tu­rion. An amount of R178 923 was spent at Dis­count World on Fleet Street in East Lon­don.

“Pro­hib­ited items to the value of R286 108 were pur­chased. This in­ter alia 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. On June 1, 2017 when she made her first pur­chases at 2.55pm she be­came aware of the er­ro­neous credit. On June 1 2017 alone she spent ap­prox­i­mately R20 000.”

/MALIBONGWE DAYIMANI/

East Lon­don at­tor­ney Asanda Pakade in­ter­acts with his client Si­bongile Mani, cen­tre, at the East Lon­don mag­is­trate’s court .

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