'Millionaire' student living in fear

05 September 2017 - 11:30 By Jan Bornman
Friends form a protective screen around Sibongile Mani this week.
Friends form a protective screen around Sibongile Mani this week.
Image: Sino Majangaza

Sibongile Mani‚ the Walter Sisulu University student who erroneously received a R14 million payment‚ is living in fear while her organisation tries to shield her from criticism.

Mani‚ who is the branch secretary of the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (Pasma)‚ had her life turned upside down over the last week after it was revealed that she had spent more than R800‚000 of the money that had accidentally been paid into her account.

The money was paid by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Pasma arranged a press conference on Monday for students at the Buffalo City campus‚ where Mani was met with calls to "pay back the money".

Pasma chairperson Vuyo Langeni said the organisation had organised the press conference to "set the record straight".

"What happened last week was the university gave their statement‚ Intellimali gave their statement‚ NSFAS gave their statement‚ but we never got a chance to tell our side of the story‚" Langeni said.

"We also wanted to ask how her personal and confidential information came out. Her student number‚ ID number and even the course she was studying was leaked. She is now living in fear‚" he said.

Langeni said Pasma was hoping to help Mani with a lawyer who would be willing to represent her pro bono as well as organise counselling for her.

"She's traumatised. We are trying by all means to ensure the environment she is in is a friendly and safe environment‚" Langeni said.

"She's a student and she's never been at the centre of a commotion like this. She's had to deal with the media‚ with the hatred from other students‚ and she's getting threats."

Intellimali‚ the company who administered the payments‚ took full responsibility for the blunder last week. It repaid the university the R818‚469.29 spent by Mani. It said it would also be looking into opening criminal charges.

University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said the university wasn't aware of any charges.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Brigadier Miranda Mills said the SAPS weren't aware of any charges laid in this matter in the Eastern Cape.

Following complaints that Mani was fearing for her safety‚ Tukwayo said it is the university's responsibility to ensure the safety of all students on campus.

Tukwayo reaffirmed the university's stance that no student would suffer or lose out on their allowances following Mani's spending spree.

"Financially‚ we are absolutely certain there won't be any future problems. All students who are supposed to receive their allowances‚ will receive it until the end of the academic year‚" she said.