Portia Sizani, wife of SA’s ambassador of Germany Stone Sizani, was on Friday found guilty of 15 counts of fraud and nine counts of money laundering at the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court.
“The law must take its course, I’ve always been open, I’ll allow the la to take it’s course,” Sizani told ANA after the verdict.
Sizani was arrested in December 2012. The trial was delayed for more than a year due to her alleged ill health.
In February 2016, Sizani was found not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her. The five counts Sizani was acquitted on relate to witnesses that could not be traced.
However, she still faces 16 counts of fraud and 10 of money laundering.
According to the state, Sizani allegedly defrauded the Eastern Cape education department out of more than R1.2 million by processing several fraudulent applications for Grade R teaching posts.
Sizani was the Early Childhood Development (ECD) district co-ordinator at the time. She allegedly appointed “ghost teachers” and pocketed their pay during 2009 and 2010.
She would allegedly obtain the personal details of teachers, apply for posts on their behalf, and falsify the principal’s signature of approval. Once the money was paid into the teachers’ accounts, Sizani would allegedly inform them that a mistake had been made and the money should be paid to her.
Sizani, who is accused in one of the counts by her niece of accepting money as payment, has denied the allegations.
The ECD programme provided for the appointment of Grade R teachers at Eastern Cape schools.
Throwing a spanner in the works, the case was delayed after Magistrate Mputumi Mpofu dismissed a recusal application brought by Sizani’s defence team.
Following the recusal dismissal, Sizani’s defence team filed papers for a review at the Grahamstown High Court, which also failed.
At the time, they said Mpofu could be biased as his wife worked for the education department. However, Mpofu said his wife had stopped working for the department in 2013.
Sizani started working for the department as a teacher in East London in 1991 and slowly climbed up the ranks. Her husband was the former education MEC and resigned from that position in 2002.
– African News Agency (ANA)