A student was relying on benefits in order to study – but thought her lucky day had come when she was mistakenly given £850,000 instead of her usual £85 monthly university food grant.
Scholar Sibongile Mani, 32, immediately splashed £50,000 of the funds in just three months – after they were incorrectly sent to her bank account.
The South African student woke up a millionaire with 14 million rands in her account and quickly went on a vast shopping spree.
She ditched her old wardrobe for designer clothes, picked up the latest iPhone and treated herself to an expensive weave.
But she was arrested after the freak money transfer was discovered.
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A student at Walter Sisulu University, Ms Mani, a just-married mother-of-two, splashed out on £100 bottles of scotch at swanky venues where she partied several nights and spent over £600 a day.
However, after she left a bank receipt at a supermarket, her spending spree was cut short and authorities got involved.
She was arrested in 2017 and charged with theft and fraud, before being sentenced last year to five years in prison.
After her sentencing, Ms Mani wrote on her blog she saw it as “miracle money” and a “gift from God”.
She added she “didn’t think twice” on whether it was wrong to spend it.
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Her lawyer Mr 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 also pointed out that the university had mistakenly sent her the money and had not itself noticed the error until students told them.
Two judges agreed to suspend the five year prison sentence providing she did not commit theft or fraud in that time.
She was also told to complete 14 weeks of community service and undergo counselling.
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However she was not ordered to pay back the money.
Ms Mani’s lawyer Mr Pakade said afterwards: “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.”
Branch secretary of the South African Students Congress Mr Samkelo Mqhayi who reported Mani to the NSFAS told Herald Live at the time: “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.”
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