Sizani 'ghost teachers' fraud case postponed, again

2017-09-22 12:14
Portia 'Pankie' Sizani. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24, file)

Portia 'Pankie' Sizani. (Werner Hills, Netwerk24, file)

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Port Elizabeth - The R1.2m fraud case against Portia "Pankie" Sizani, wife of former African National Congress (ANC) chief whip in Parliament Stone Sizani, was once again postponed in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Friday.

Sizani faces charges of fraud and money laundering for allegedly defrauding the Eastern Cape education department by processing several fraudulent applications for Grade R teaching posts.

Sizani, who was the Early Childhood Development district co-ordinator at the time, allegedly appointed "ghost teachers" and pocketed their pay during 2009 and 2010.

READ: Court gives Portia Sizani ultimatum in R1.2m ‘ghost’ teacher fraud trial

The case against Sizani has been dragging since she was arrested in December 2012.

The initial trial was scheduled to start in August 2013, but was delayed by a year after Sizani submitted a doctor's note saying she was not fit to stand trial.

Bias argument

The state then presented evidence, including the testimony of teachers and principals, over an 18 month period, before concluding its case in February 2016.

At the end of the state's case, Sizani was found not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her, in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act. This follows after five witnesses who were to testify in the matters relating to the five counts could not be traced.

She still faces 16 counts of fraud and 10 counts of money laundering.

Sizani's legal team then lodged an application under section 174 to have the entire case dismissed, but the application was dismissed in July 2016, with Magistrate Mputumi Mpofu finding she did have a case to answer.

The case was then postponed to November 2016, where Sizani's lawyers brought an application for Mpofu to recuse himself, as his wife had worked in the education department and the defence argued that this could result in bias.

Mpofu, however, dismissed the application.

Following the recusal dismissal, defence advocate, Johan Wessels, filed papers for a review at the Grahamstown High Court.

Sizani's case was set down to be heard in July this year, but was unable to proceed as the defence were still waiting for a review date from the Grahamstown High Court.

The matter was then set down to be heard on Friday, but was again postponed, and is now set down to be heard on February 15 2018.

Read more on:    stone sizani  |  port elizabeth  |  corruption  |  crime

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