South African student goes on spending spree after $1 million error

A worker holds up a proofed krugerrand gold coin in Germiston, South Africa. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - A South African university student's spending spree on clothes, a party and a new smartphone slammed to a halt after it emerged the roughly US$1 million (S$1.3 million) fuelling her splurge had been given to her in error.

A company that hands out student funding accidentally transferred 14 million rand into the young woman's account instead of the 1,400-rand (S$145) monthly food allowance she was supposed to get, officials said on Wednesday (Aug 30).

The Walter Sisulu University, in the Eastern Cape region, said the whopping error was made in June during monthly disbursement of state-issued student loans.

"The error was only discovered on Monday after the matter was reported to us by another student," the university spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo said.

Tukwayo said the student who cannot be named had already spent nearly 800,000 rand (S$83,000) of the money.

"She is liable for the amount that she has already spent, as part of our agreement with students who take out loans," said Tukwayo.

The rest of the excess cash has been has been taken back from the young woman's account, while the university probes how the mistake occurred.

Local media reported the student had splurged some of the cash on expensive clothing, a smart phone and partying.

The resources of South Africa's National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which funds students from impoverished backgrounds often battles to meet the demand for loan applications from students.

South African students have in the past two years engaged in violent protests demanding free university education.

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