To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Student went on huge shopping spree after mistakenly receiving nearly $1,000,000 in her bank account

Student went on huge shopping spree after mistakenly receiving nearly $1,000,000 in her bank account

South African student Sibongile Mani has since been convicted of theft and fraud.

If a whole bunch of money unexpectedly landed in your bank account, what would you do?

That's the situation that South African student Sibongile Mani found herself in back in 2017.

R14 million ($760,000) was credited into her account as part of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), when she was reportedly only entitled to R1,400 ($76).

Foto24 / Contributor / Getty
Foto24 / Contributor / Getty

The payment was due to an error from private service provider Intellemali to Walter Sisulu University to disburse funds to students.

According to News24, Mani went on a spending spree with the money, spending over R800,000 ($44,000) in 73 days.

Her purchases reportedly included blankets, bath sheets, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, jackets and handbags.

After the error was picked up by Intellimali's systems, Mani was convicted of theft in 2022.

Before she was sentenced, the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, Elleck Nchabeleng said it was a reminder that theft does not pay. He added: “However, the committee calls on all those who are concerned to provide support to the student and that she be allowed to finish her studies.

"Ms Mani is National Student Financial Aid Scheme beneficiary without whose support she will struggle to pay back the money as well as finish her studies.”

According to News24, Mani was originally sentenced to five years in jail, but in 2023 she won an appeal. She was instead sentenced to a five-year suspended sentence and community service by the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda.

The suspended sentence hinges on Mani not being convicted of a fraud or theft-related offence during the five years.

Oscar Wong / Getty
Oscar Wong / Getty

Acting judge Sally Collett reportedly said in her ruling: “While it would be undesirable to understate the behavior of Mani, which was unquestionably the result of conscious and calculated decision-making, it is doubtful whether incarceration would satisfy the interests of justice."

The judge also ruled that Mani attend regular counselling and rehabilitative programmes.

News24 reports National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Eastern Cape spokesperson Luxolo Tyali as saying: “Both courts found that Mani knew that her actions were unlawful and, therefore, had the intent to commit fraud. Before the R14 million, which was deposited into her account erroneously, she never spent her R1,400 monthly stipend on prohibited items."

Intellemali took full responsibility for the error, and reimbursed the money. In a statement, the NSFAS said this was 'to ensure that no future student allowances are affected'.

According to the Daily Mail, after her appeal was granted Mani's lawyer Asanda Pakade said: "She is very relieved and very happy that she does not have to go to prison and is looking to putting all this behind her and starting again."

Featured Image Credit: Facebook