Earlier this year, the East London Regional Court found Mani guilty of theft and sentenced her to five years imprisonment. Mani has now been granted Leave To Appeal the sentence for her fraud conviction.
Asanda Pakade, Mani’s lawyer, says they are ready and confident to petition the high court with regard the sentence she received and a different court will not uphold the five-year sentence.
Sibongile Mani support group spokesperson, Zandisiwe Nyimbana also welcomed the court's decision to grant a leave to appeal the sentencing.
Nyimbana says while it is a serious crime, Mani should not be the only party prosecuted in the matter. She believes that the service provider who paid Mani R14 million in her student account when she was only supposed to receive R1 400 should be prosecuted.
The money was paid into her account from service provider Intellimali on behalf of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).
Sibongile Mani support group spokesperson, Zandisiwe Nyimbana said:
We welcome the decision of the court to appeal the sentencing but however we still maintain that Sibongile Mani is innocent and it is not a criminal case
Nyimbana believes the sentiment around the case would have been different had the courts found her guilty but instead of sentencing Mani to imprisonment, she was ordered to repay the money that she had spent. She adds that Nsfas have also not lost any money and that no students were disadvantaged or lost out of funding because of Mani’s actions.
“Sibongile Mani is not guilty and we still maintain that and we are going to fight tooth and nail to ensure justice for her” concluded Nyimbana.