Stone Sizani’s wife faces R1.2m fraud, money laundering charges

2014-08-20 17:20

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani’s wife Portia “Pankie” Sizani has appeared in court on fraud and money laundering charges.

She is alleged to have defrauded the department of education of more than R1.2 million between 2009 and 2010 when she worked as the Port Elizabeth district education coordinator of the early childhood development unit.

She is facing 16 counts of fraud and 15 of money laundering.

Her husband was MEC for education in the Eastern Cape from 1999 until 2002. He was appointed to the position of parliamentary chief whip last year.

Sizani, who is out on a warning and was appearing in court for the third time, looked at the floor while listening to proceedings today and often leant back with her arms folded.

Several principals and school owners of early childhood development centres around the city yesterday testified before magistrate Mputumi Mpofu.

They told the court that they did not know the “teachers” referred to their schools by the accused.

Some claimed that when teachers were sent to their schools they were there as volunteers or they would be paid directly by the department.

The state is expected to call some of the “teachers” to testify against Sizani.

The state is alleging that Sizani organised work for “ghost” teachers, who didn’t exist, and had people sign assumption of duty forms, which were also signed by school principals on her insistence.

She would allegedly pocket the salaries of these teachers every month.

One of the people she allegedly used as a bogus teacher was her niece, Amanda Noluntshungu, for whom a warrant of arrest was issued by the same court on Monday. Noluntshungu was supposed to testify on Monday but didn’t arrive.

Sizani has pleaded not guilty to all 31 charges against her.

She was arrested in December 2012 and the trial was delayed for more than a year due to alleged ill health.

The ANC chief whip has not been in court to support his wife since the beginning of the trial on Monday.

Sizani’s lawyers, advocate Johan Wessels and attorney Roland Meyer, did not cross-examine many of the state’s witnesses – school principals who gave evidence about how assumption of duty forms were fraudulently signed to reflect names of bogus teachers they knew nothing about.

One of the principals, Vuyelwa Manase, confirmed that she had dealt with Sizani and pointed her out from the dock when state prosecutor Ronelle Brink asked her to.

“Yes my Lord I know the lady I was dealing with at the department of education. It is Mrs Sizani who is here before court as an accused,” said Manase, after she pointed at the accused.

She said she did not know a Yolanda Mahote who was said to have been a teacher in her school.

“There were only two Grade R teachers in my school ... me and a lady called Veliswa Masantsana. There was no Yolanda Mahote there,” she said.

The trial continues tomorrow, with the state expected to call more witnesses.

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