Student Mistakenly Sent $1Million In Financial Aid Speaks Out

A University student in South Africa who went on a massive spending spree after she received a staggering $60,000 of the fortune instead of her usual $100 monthly university food grant could face up to 15 years in jail.

Sibongile Mani, 27, who was on benefits to allow her to study, faces criminal charges of fraud and theft after she splurged the cash in 73 days after the blunder.

The oversight occurred at Walter Sisulu University in Eastern Cape province when a massive over allocation of funds was accidentally loaded onto the student’s financial aid debit card.
The money, which was supposed to be a $100 stipend for food and books, was immediately available to the student, according to Intellimali, the company responsible for issuing the student cards. Four extra zeroes were added to the direct deposit.
University officials were alerted to the mistake by another WSU student who noticed the young woman’s newly found spending habits.
The student’s account has since been blocked and the remaining balance has been retracted, WSU spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said in a statement.
“The student will be liable for the money she has already spent,” Tukwayo added.
Intellimali took full responsibility for the extraordinary oversight and claimed new policies already have been implemented to ensure such an incident never gets repeated.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which provides a lump sum for universities to distribute to financial aid recipients, has demanded a full report from Intellimali and WSU.
“When a mistake occurs in these processes, it is in the hands of the university,” NSFAS said a statement. “NSFAS is not involved, except to get an official report from the university detailing what happened.”
Intellimali has “appointed a forensic auditor to investigate this incident which can only be described as unprecedented in our 10-year history,” said the company’s CEO Michael Ansell.
The formal investigation is underway and Intellimali claimed legal action will be taken against the student for the misappropriation of funds.
The gross oversight drew swift condemnation from the South African Parliament.
“This is unacceptable that such a grave mistake as this one could occur undetected on money appropriated by Parliament,” said MP Connie September, who chairs the Committee on Higher Education and Training.

In a Facebook post Sibongile claimed she had reported the error to the authorities.

She said: “Today my personal life has become a social media scandal. I have been named and shamed in public. Today, I am a bad person, a person who stole the money of students.

“With that being said, and being named a thief, but as we all know in every story there is truth and there are lies with the very same story”.

She said she was not denying anything but would tell her side later but she has fled the campus and gone into hiding and shut down her Facebook page.

Student leader Sibongile, who has shown no remorse despite facing possible jail, told the Daily Daily Dispatch: “It is very clear that I didn’t make the error”.

Sibongile was said to have undergone a Cinderella like transformation overnight after the cash blunder.

Eyebrows were raised initially when her neat corn-row hairstyle was replaced with £180-a-time Peruvian weaves and she began wearing designer outfits and bought a brand new i-phone 7.

She began flashing the cash kitting out her closest friends with new outfits and drinking £50-a-time bottles of whisky and jetting herself and her pals round the country to wild parties.

A fellow student said: “She went from a hard up, humdrum run-of-the-mill student to one who was leading a lavish lifestyle and seemed to have no bottom to her purse and lived the high life.

“She became very glamorous in beautiful dresses with all the accessories and we thought she must have won the Lottery. She must have thought she had won it too when she got that cash!”.

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