From the blog

SOUTH AFRICA: Student Spared Jail After Spending £50k From Overpaid Grant

A student who was mistakenly given £850,000 instead of her usual £85 monthly university food grant and blew £50,000 of it in under three months has been spared jail.

Scholar Sibongile Mani, who rely on government aid to pay for her study, could not believe her eyes when she received her due in a multiple of ten in her account.

After she woke up one morning with 14 million rands in her account, the 32-year-old went on a huge shopping spree and ditched her old wardrobe for designer clothes, as well as purchasing the latest iPhone and getting an expensive weave.

The Walter Sisulu University student splashed out on £100 bottles of scotch at swanky venues where she partied several nights and spent over £600 a day. It wasn’t until she accidentally left a bank receipt behind at a supermarket that she was busted. The receipt showed she had more than the equivalent of £800,000 in her bank and she was reported to the police.

She was arrested in 2017 and charged with theft and fraud, before being sentenced last year to five years in prison. Her lawyer Asanda Pakade appealed her sentence on the grounds that Mani was no danger to society, she had not sought out the money, and was not a candidate for overcrowded prisons.

He said that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme had wrongly sent her 14 million rand and had not even noticed such a staggering amount was missing until students alerted them. Appearing at the East London High Court in Makhanda, two judges agreed to suspend the 5-year prison sentence providing she did not commit theft or fraud in that time.

The just-married mother-of-two was also told to complete 14 weeks of community service and undergo counselling and she did not have to pay back the money she had spent.