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Student Receives $1M In Aid By Mistake (Photos)

Student Receives $1M In Aid By Mistake (Photos) Promo Image

A university student in South Africa mistakenly received $1 million in her financial aid account and spent approximately $60,000 of it before school officials found out. 

Sibongile Mani, 27, was only supposed to receive a $100 stipend for food and books from the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, according to the Daily Mail. Instead, an error led to $1 million being deposited into Mani's account.

With so much money in her account, she began a 73-day spending spree with her friends. She paid for an expensive makeover and replaced her closet with designer clothes. She also spent the money on friends, paying for their clothes and taking them to parties around the country.

Her fellow students began to become suspicious of Mani's wild spending habits and fellow student Samkelo Mqhayi eventually reported her to the National Students' Financial Aid Scheme. 

"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," he said. "When the SPAR receipt was leaked showing [her] balance, I called NSFAS and they checked their records and confirmed that the initial amount was [$1 million]."

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According to CNN, Mani's account has been frozen and the remaining money in her account has been removed. She will also be liable for all of the money she already spent -- which totaled around $60,000.

"When a mistake occurs in these processes, it is in the hands of the university," the NSFAS said in a statement. "NSFAS is not involved, except to get an official report from the university detailing what happened."

Intellimali, the company responsible for issuing money to students, has already taken full responsibility for the mistake. CEO Michael Ansell has said he "appointed a forensic auditor to investigate this incident which can only be described as unprecedented in our 10-year history."

A formal investigation is underway and both the university and Intellimali will be expected to present a report to NSFAS explinaing what happened.

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In a Facebook post, Mani did not deny spending the extra money but said she will tell her side of the story later, reports the Daily Mail. 

'"Today my personal life has become a social media scandal," she wrote. "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."

She has since shut down her Facebook account and left the campus.

Zollie Zamisa, chairman of the South African Students Congress which worked to get students the extra funding in the first place, said she was appalled by Mani's actions.

"We are shocked," she said. "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."

She added: "This cannot be allowed to happen again."

Sources: Daily Mail, CNN / Featured Image: Pictures of Money/Flickr / Embedded Images: Sibongile Mani via Daily Mail

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