A student who received a £850,000 student loan instead of her usual £85 is in trouble after going on a massive spending spree.
27-year-old accountancy student Sibongile Mani, from Mthatha, South Africa was on benefits to help her through university.
Normally she receives a food grant of £85 (1,400 Rand) a month but the company that administers financial aid at the university, Intellimali, made a blunder, putting £850,000 (14 million Rand) straight into her bank account.
Naturally, Sibongile went on a 73 day spending spree with her pals wearing designer clothes, throwing wild parties and buying a brand new iPhone 7.
A few eyebrows were raised but suspicions grew when a till receipt from a local SPAR shop was leaked showing that Sibongile had more than £800,000 in her account.
Samkelo Mqhayi, deputy branch secretary of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) eventually outed her reporting Sibongile to the National Students’ Financial Aids Scheme.
He told Herald Live:
She threw surprise birthday parties for her friends and showered them with expensive gifts and flew them to events where she bought the best seats.
When the SPAR receipt was leaked showing a balance of R13.6-million (£810,000) in her account I called NSFAS and they checked their records and confirmed that the initial amount was R14-million (£850,000)
By the time authorities caught her they discovered Sibongile had been spending £666 a day with £50,000 in total missing from her account.
Zolile Zamisa, SASCO branch chairman, added:
We are shocked. Not so long ago we were protesting for thousands of students who were left without funding due to fund shortages.
Yet she was living a lavish lifestyle hosting birthday parties for her friends at up-market champagne clubs and other expensive hangouts.
This cannot be allowed to happen again.
In a now deleted Facebook post Sibongile claimes she reported the error to the authorities saying she went ‘straight to the SRC to report this matter’.
The post read:
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.
— Sibongile Mani (@ManiSibongile) August 30, 2017
Sibongile has since fled from the university campus and gone into hiding – reducing activity on each of her social media pages, with the university saying ‘she will have to repay the money’.
Legal experts say Sibongile could face theft charges.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.