Portia Sizani ‘paid ghost teacher before she got a job’

2014-08-27 17:26

A state witness has told the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court that Portia Sizani had arranged for money to be deposited in her account while she waited to be employed as a teacher. This was a few months after Sindisiwe Jafta submitted her qualifications to the accused.

Jafta was today testifying as one of several teachers allegedly used by Sizani as “ghost” teachers to defraud the education department of R1.2 million.

Sizani, the wife of ANC parliamentary chief whip Stone Sizani is facing 31 charges of fraud and money laundering for crimes committed between 2009 and 2010.

Sizani was coordinator of the Early Childhood Development programme and was in charge of appointing Grade R teachers.

Jafta told magistrate Mputumi Mpofu that she knew Sizani from the education department and that they were lived in the same neighbourhood.

She said Sizani’s brother, Phumelele, also had a child with one of her relatives.

“She asked me to submit my qualifications and CV which I did in January 2009. I submitted all the relevant documentation to her offices. In October she called me to her office and gave me bank forms to sign and to hand over to the bank,” said Jafta.

She said after taking the forms back to the bank, Sizani instructed her to return them to her office.

Jafta said Sizani came to her house in November 2009 to update her about developments in her application. She was still unemployed at the time.

“She told me that an amount of R22 000 plus would be deposited in my account in two days’ time. She said the money would be coming from the department of education and that it was being deposited in my account by mistake and that I should not be shocked.

“She instructed me to withdraw the money and send it to a certain person based in Pretoria, for whom the money was meant. She [Sizani] gave me the contact number of the person to send the money to. In turn, that person gave me two account numbers to deposit the R20 000 in,” said Jafta.

She further testified that she deposited R13 000 in a Nedbank account and R5 000 in an Absa account and used the remaining R2 000 to buy herself towels and other items as instructed by Sizani, who had also promised her a monthly stipend from the department.

Meanwhile temperatures ran high in court as the defence and prosecution argued over the availability of documents.

The defence asked Mpofu to grant an order to force the state to provide it with all the documents regardless of whether the state thought they were relevant to the case.

Advocate Johan Wessels argued that the state had always withheld information from them since the beginning of the trial.

But state prosecutor Ronelle Brink disagreed, saying she had given the defence everything she has.

“I have nothing more to give. I have given the state all of the documents; we are not withholding anything from them,” said Brink.

The defence had raised the issue after Jafta referred to notes taken by the Special Investigating Unit. The defence said they had not seen the notes while the state also said they had not seen the notes and that it was the first time the witness had mentioned them.

Mpofu said he could not grant an order for something that the state could not provide.

“If the state says they have no other documents to give, there is nothing else that I can do. It will be like asking the state to suck milk from a stone,” said Mpofu.

During cross examination, the defence also took issue with Jafta’s discrepancies between her evidence in chief and what she provided in her statement.

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