Wife of SA ambassador to Germany found guilty of fraud - reports

Portia Sizani (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)
Portia Sizani (Werner Hills, Netwerk24)

Portia Sizani, the wife of SA's ambassador to Germany, Stone Sizani, has been found guilty of 15 counts of fraud and nine counts of money laundering at the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court, according to the Citizen.

She told news agency ANA after the verdict that the law must take its course.

"I've always been open, I'll allow the law to take its course," Sizani is reported to have said.

News24 reported that the case has been dragging since she was arrested in 2012, after being accused of defrauding the Eastern Cape education department by processing several fraudulent applications for Grade R teaching posts.

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

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.

READ: What is Mrs Sizani's mystery illness

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 conclusion of the state's case, Sizani was found not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering, in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA). This was after five witnesses who were to testify in the matters relating to the five counts could not be traced.

Sizani's legal team then lodged an application under Section 174 for the case to be dismissed. This 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. ANA reported that this failed.

ANA said that Sizani began working for the department as a teacher in East London in 1991, and worked up the ranks.

Her husband was the former education MEC before resigning in 2002. He was also the ANC's chief whip from 2013 until he resigned to become SA's ambassador to Germany in 2016.

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