Fraud victim recalls how life savings were stolen
A student who had to rely on benefits in order to get through her studies has been left broke after splurging thousands of pounds in cash that was wrongly given to her.
Sibongile Mani was left stunned when a Government aid scheme sent her 10,000 times too much money – with £850,000 dropping into her account as opposed to £85.
The South African couldn’t believe her eyes when she woke up to the hefty sum in her account – which was around 14 million rands in her hometown currency.
And she soon began blowing it.
The 32-year-old went on a huge shopping spree, which saw her ditch her old wardrobe for new designer clothes – and purchase an iPhone and an expensive weave.
During her splurge, the Walter Sisulu University student forked out £100 on bottles of scotch at plush bars where she partied the night away.
At the peak, she was spending £600 a day.
However, a stray bank receipt left at a supermarket saw her fairytale end.
It showed Mani had the equivalent of £800,000 in her account and the student was reported to the police.
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Mani was arrested in 2017 and charged with theft and fraud – eventually being slapped with a five-year stretch behind bars during a hearing last year.
Following her sentencing, she wrote on her blog that she saw it as “a gift from God” and that she “didn’t think twice” about whether she was allowed to spend the sum or not.
Asanda Pakade, Mani’s lawyer, appealed to the courts that her sentence should be lessened as she was no danger to society, and noted that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme had not even noticed the amount had gone missing until students told them.
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At the East London High Court in Makhanda, the prison sentence was suspended and she was ordered to carry out 14 weeks of community service and undergo counseling.
However, she was told did not have to pay back the money.
Pakade said: “She is very relieved and very happy that she does not have to go to prison and is looking to putting all this behind her and starting again.
“She is putting her life which was left in tatters back together again and is looking forward to starting afresh and is very grateful that the court took the decisions that it took.”
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