South Africans have expressed anger, shock and different views after the 5-year-sentencing of Walter Sisulu student, Sibongile Mani.
Mani was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for the theft of over R800 000 of the R14 million that was incorrectly deposited into her account for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds in 2017. The 31-year-old was entitled to R1400 allowance from the scheme and failed to report the error to the authorities.
She spent the money on booze, clothing, gift cards, food and other materialistic things. Following her sentencing on Wednesday, March 30, social media users online were divided on her sentence. Some felt like the sentence was too harsh for a first-time offender who only spent money that was deposited into her account and others said the sentence was fine and needed to be a lesson for those who might think about doing the same.
Following her sentence, the student scheme released a statement, stating they had not suffered any financial loss due to this incident and the that the reputational damage this incident has caused NSFAS, due largely to the inaccurate reporting of this matter in the media and parliament.
“NSFAS had, when the incident came to light, commissioned an internal audit review of its systems and controls, and confirmed that indeed no financial loss was suffered. The outcome of this review is on record. Investigations were also conducted by Walter Sisulu University and the Department of Higher Education and Training. The facts have revealed that the only entity that suffered financial loss due to the weakness in internal controls and systems that led to this incident was Intellimali, a service provider appointed by Walter Sisulu University.”
They said they did not institute any criminal proceedings against the student as there was no basis for it to do so.