All her life, 27-year-old Sibongile Mani had been poor and had to survive on a monthly financial aid check worth $108 so she could go finish a degree in Accountancy at Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, Eastern Cape in South Africa.
An aid agency provides Sibongile and around 18,000 other students with the monthly scholarship for food and books deposited as check in their bank accounts.
A couple of months ago, Sibongile discovered that instead of $108, she received $1,080,000 after someone from the financial aid agency mistakenly added four zeros to her check. What would you have done if this happened to you?
Well, for Sibongile, it was a no-brainer. The money was in her account so, technically, it was hers. The young lady went on a shopping spree that shocked the people around her. With everyone in the school and her community poor and knowing she was also one of them, they were shocked to see her going shopping on a daily basis.
“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,” one student revealed.
She began to use stylish clothes and expensive bags. She got herself an iPhone 7 and truly splurged on expensive things that everyone wondered if she won the lottery.
But it was a receipt at a convenience store that would be her undoing. In the receipt, the balance of Sibongile’s bank account as printed out – and someone posted this online. Seeing the R13.6 million ($1,050,000) balance, local student congress deputy branch secretary Samkelo Mqhayi made a report to the National Students’ Financial Aids Scheme (NSFAS).
The investigation revealed the mistake on the check and Sibongile’s subsequent shopping spree. In over 2 months, she was able to spend $65,000, shelling out around $860 a day. The company in charge of the financial aid has since filed a case against the student, saying she has to pay for the amount she spent because it was not intended for her to fund a lavish lifestyle.
Sibongile has gone into hiding; although she still posts on social media. In one of these posts, she laments why she is being made to pay for the $65,000 she spent when she doesn’t even have a job to begin with since she’s a student! Well, she should have thought of that when she began spending the money like she won the lottery, right?