BREAKING | Sibongile Mani sentenced to 5 years in jail

Sibongile Mani in Court as she faces Judgement following charges of theft of NSFAS funds.
Sibongile Mani in Court as she faces Judgement following charges of theft of NSFAS funds.

Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani has been sentenced to five years in jail for the theft of more than R800 000 in NSFAS funds.

Members of the gallery were teary while Mani stood unmoved in the dock as  East London regional court magistrate Twanett Olivier delivered the judgment.

Olivier had said that a suspended sentence was not suitable and warned of “misplaced pity” and that Mani was not a victim.

The magistrate showed no leniency, that Mani’s defence had requested when she quantified how many needy students Mani denied funding with the spending of the allowance that was mistakenly transferred to her.

“The court has a duty to impose a fearlessly appropriate and fair sentence even if such a sentence would not satisfy public opinion,” Olivier said.

“The only form of sentence deemed fit by this court is that of direct imprisonment.

“It was inspired by greed not need,” Olivier said.

Mani, 31, was convicted last month of theft of nearly R1m from the money deposited into her student account in error by Intellimali, an NSFAS service provider, in 2017.

Mani’s attorney Asanda Pakade made an impassioned plea for his client, a WSU honours degree student based at the Komani campus, for a suspended sentence. Within hours of the money going into her account, Mani had spent more than R20,000 and went on to splurge more than R800,000 until her account was frozen on August 14.


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