Student Who Mistakenly Received Nearly $1,000,000 In Her Bank Account Decides Go On Spending Spree

Sibongile Mani's strange spending habits were discovered by people around her.

Sibongile Mani

If your bank account unexpectedly received $1,000,000, how would you respond? Would you confess to being afraid of the repercussions or would you go on a spending binge? While I doubt many of us would ever have to make this choice in real life, Sibongile Mani, a student at Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in South Africa, did.

Mani, who was 32 years old at the time, depended on benefits to help pay for her education. She usually got $100 a month for groceries.

But when she awoke one morning, she discovered that the government assistance program had instead sent her 14 million rands (about $760,000 as of this writing).

Despite the fact that the money had been accidentally handed to her, Mani chose to seize the chance and went on an enormous shopping spree.

Mani spent a lot of money on luxury clothing, the newest iPhone, and pricey wine bottles in the days that followed.

When she was eventually discovered, she had already spent over forty thousand dollars thanks to a bank receipt she had left at a grocery store.

Herald Live was informed at the time by South African Students Congress branch secretary Samkelo Mqhayi that "She was just suddenly spending so much. Her supermarket receipt which was leaked showed she had 13.6m rand in her account and she had been throwing parties for her friends and showering them with gifts without worry."

In 2017, Mani was charged with theft and fraud, following a police report, and she was taken into custody.

Mani was given a five-year prison sentence in 2022; however, her attorney, Asanda Pakade, challenged the ruling, arguing that the student hadn't posed a threat to the public and hadn't pursued the money that had ended up in her account.

Mani herself alleged that she considered the money to be a 'miracle' and a 'gift from God', saying she 'didn't think twice' about spending it.

During a 2023 hearing at the East London High Court in Makhanda, two justices decided to postpone Mani's five-year sentence, provided she didn't steal or commit fraud during that period.

Mani was also mandated to undergo counseling and perform 14 weeks of community service; however, she was not ordered to reimburse her previous expenses.

Mani was 'very delighted' that she didn't have to go to prison and was 'looking to putting all this behind her and starting again', according to Pakade, after the judges decided to suspend her sentence.

"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," the attorney stated.