SA woman who spent almost $1m she got in error jailed
A South African woman has been jailed for five years by a court for spending almost $1 million (14 million rands) credited to her bank account in error.
Sibongile Mani got 14 million rands instead of 1,400 rands she was entitled to in 2017.
The money had come from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) through a payment services company, Intellimali.
Mani was at the time a student at Walter Sisulu University. She did not report the error in the payment but rather went on a shopping spree.
She was put on trial for her offence and convicted, leading to her sentencing by the court.
Mani was found guilty of theft and was sentenced to jail on Wednesday. But her legal team said it will appeal against the conviction and sentencing, to be heard on 11 April.
According to the presiding judge Mani’s spending was inspired by “greed”, and not because of her impoverished background as her lawyers argued in court.
During the trial it was revealed that instead of reporting the error, Mani started spending the money within two hours of receiving it.
When authorities realized the error and decided to block her account, she had used nearly $70,000 in 48 places across the country in 73 days.
According to court details she spent the money on weaves, cellphones, alcohol, bedding, gift cards and luxury goods among others.
The court said in sentencing her that it was shocking that Mani was able to spend so much money per day across the country.
The money Mani spent before her account was blocked had to be refunded by Intellimali, the company that distributed NSFAS funds, so that other students could also benefit.