An East London supermarket owner suspected of colluding with theft accused Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student by selling her over R170,000 worth of prohibited items has fled the province. Mani went on a spending spree after R14m was mistakenly deposited into her National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) account.
This was revealed by Intelimali director Roy Jackson at Mani’s theft trial currently under way at the regional court in East London. Jackson, from Cape Town, said: “Soon after we learnt about the incident in August 2017, we launched a preliminary investigation and arranged a meeting with this merchant because when we looked at the records from the system, Miss Mani spent a huge chunk at the store.” Jackson said he had, however, “found the doors of the store shut”.
“And when we asked neighbouring shops where the store owner was, we were told that he fled to Pretoria,” he said. Jackson said Mani spent R286,108 on alcohol, cigarettes, electrical appliances, bedding, airtime, gift cards, toys and microwaves. He revealed that shops were identified by WSU and approved by Intelimali to sell to students. He said the store, Discount World in Fleet Street, East London, knew the rules on what goods could be sold to students. “It appears that Miss Mani had some kind of a relationship with the owner of the store,” he told magistrate Twanett Olivier.
While the National Student Fund Aid Scheme (NSFAS) continues to fund theft-accused Walter Sisulu University student Sibongile Mani’s education‚ she has to submit monthly reconciliation statements about her spending. Mani‚ a third-year accounting student‚ was arrested by the Hawks in May and faces a theft charge after student fund distributor Intelimali opened a theft case in September last year.
This is after R14-million was erroneously loaded into her student account in June last year. Mani failed to report the “error” but is accused of blowing R810‚000 in 73 days. During her July 2 court appearance‚ Mani’s spokesman Vusi Mahlangu told the Dispatch that NSFAS allocated more funding to the student.
NSFAS spokesman Kagisho Mamabolo said the scheme would continue funding Mani until proven guilty in a court of law as long as she qualified for assistance.
“Given NSFAS’ stance above‚ we hereby confirm that Ms Mani does in fact qualify for the 2018 meal and book allowances on condition that NSFAS receives a monthly reconciliation statement on her spent allowances‚” he said.
Despite facing a theft charge for allegedly blowing just over R800‚000 of the R14-million erroneously deposited into her student account last year‚ Walter Sisulu University accounting student Sibongile Mani was allocated an estimated R100‚000 by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme this year.
While the NSFAS declined to comment about the allocation‚ Mani confirmed after her brief appearance at the East London Magistrate’s Court on Monday that she was studying with the scheme’s financial backing. #OutsourcingMustFall activist and Pan African Student Movement of Azania leader Vusi Mahlangu‚ who was in court with Mani‚ told the Daily Dispatch this proved that Mani was academically deserving of the scheme.
“Yes she has been allocated more funding because she is an excellent student. She qualified for NSFAS again and got it again. The mere fact that she qualified means that she passed‚” said Mahlangu‚ adding NSFAS covered Mani’s accommodation‚ books‚ and food.
WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo confirmed Mani was studying through funding from NSFAS for the accounting national diploma.
Tukwayo said a year for the course costs between R52‚000 and about R90‚000 per year excluding food‚ books‚ transport and accommodation. While Tukwayo‚ NSFAS and Mani declined to divulge the exact value of the funding‚ students close to Mani said the figure was in the region of R100‚000.
NSFAS spokesman Kagisho Mamabolo said: “It is important to note that this is a criminal investigation under judicial consideration‚ therefore we are prohibited from giving details‚ and making any public comments on this matter.”