Charge sheet details ‘Manibags’ NSFAS spend splurge

Sibongile Mani with his lawyer Asanda Pakade.
Sibongile Mani with his lawyer Asanda Pakade.
Image: Malibongwe Dayimani / File

In less than two hours after the accidental transfer of R14m into her student account on June 1 2017, theft-accused Sibongile Mani allegedly spent R20,000 on “prohibited” items including cigarettes and alcohol.

This is according to a four-page charge sheet, which was seen by the Dispatch for the first time during a brief appearance on Monday.

The theft trial of the third-year Walter Sisulu University accounting student was postponed to October 25 after Mani’s lawyer, Asanda Pakade, told East London regional magistrate Nomthandazo Vabaza that the defence team were still studying the contents of the docket and charge sheet submitted by the state.

Mani is charged with theft of R818,469 after the R14m was transferred as a result of a “systems error”, according to the charges.

The charge sheet alleges that:

The money appeared in her account 1.09pm on June 1, and at 2.55pm that day Mani started spending it;

Between June 1 and August 14 2017, when the error was noticed, Mani spent R818,469 at 48 merchants in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng;

Mani spent R174 631 over a period of a “few days” at Checkers Hyper in Centurion;

R178,923 was spent at Discount World in Fleet Street in East London; and

“Prohibited items” [items NSFAS does not allow students to use its funds for] to the value of R286,108 were purchased, including alcohol, cigarettes, electrical appliances, bedding, airtime, gift cards, toys and microwave ovens.

The charge sheet states that: “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.”

The charge sheet also alleges that Mani renamed herself on her social media account to “Sibongile Money” and that she published pictures of her receipt showing the huge sum.

“The accused knew at all times that she was only entitled to a food allowance of R1,400 and the credit she had received on June 1 2018 of R14,1m was incorrect, it did not belong to her and she was not entitled to spend it. The accused did unlawfully and intentionally steal R818,469 as described in the preamble to the charge sheet.”

State prosecuting advocate Luthando Makoyi on Monday confirmed to the court he had furnished Pakade with the charge sheet and docket.

Mani was arrested by the Hawks on May 29 after the student fund distributor Intelimali opened a theft case on September 5 2017.

Mani is accused of failing to report the alleged “error” and instead spending R810,000 in 73 days. The case was opened at the Berlin police station.

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