ANC Chief Whip's wife accused of fraud
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The wife of new ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani faces 30 charges of fraud and money laundering, but the ANC says it is “quite comfortable” it has chosen the right man for the job.
Sizani was appointed on Thursday.
His wife, Nontuthuzela “Pankie” Sizani, was arrested in Port Elizabeth in December on charges of money laundering and theft totalling about R1.3 million. The charges date back to 2009 when she headed the city’s education district’s early childhood development unit.
She is accused of creating “ghost teachers”, then pocketing their salaries. She was suspended in October 2010, when the Hawks launched an investigation.
Tsepo Ndwalaza, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority in Port Elizabeth, said yesterday that the trial was set to start in the PE Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in August.
In March, he said, the high court granted the Asset Forfeiture Unit an interim order to freeze some of her assets, including a home in Summerstrand, a farm and pension interest belonging to her and her husband. The two are married in community of property.
Ndwalaza said Pankie had been given until April 30 to oppose the order.
If convicted, she would be ordered to pay back the money, failing which, her assets would be sold and the Education Department reimbursed.
Contacted for comment yesterday, ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said he had not known about the allegations against Sizani’s wife.
However, he said: “If there was a criminal matter against comrade Sizani, and it was comrade Sizani sitting in court, it would be different. So long as he is not in court, we are quite comfortable”.
Mthembu added that the ANC worked on the principal of “innocent until proven guilty”, and that there were “so many comrades whose wives are in court”. But this did not affect their work for the ANC.
“To say that because someone’s wife is charged with something, they cannot do a job is illogical,” he said. “We have every trust in Stone Sizani.”
Moloto Mothapo, spokesman for the ANC in Parliament and for the chief whip, said Sizani was attending a funeral in the Eastern Cape, and would not be available for interviews until Monday.
DA Chief Whip Watty Watson, who said on Thursday that he hoped to establish a good working relationship with Sizani, said he had been unaware of the charges against his wife.
While everyone was innocent until proven guilty, “if that had been the case in the DA, we would not have promoted the husband of someone accused of fraud.
“When there is a sword hanging over your wife or a family member, it affects your judgement and your work, because you want to support your wife and you are worried about her and your family,” Watson added.
The ANC website states that the chief whip is the “most senior ANC whip upon whom rests the ultimate responsibility for the actions of all the ANC MPs”.
The chief whip’s job is to ensure there is effective political management, guidance and education for all ANC members, and that MPs conduct themselves in a “distinguished manner”.
Sizani, who was education MEC in the Eastern Cape until 2002, was among those fingered for corruption in the controversial Pillay Commission report, commissioned by then premier Nosimo Balidlela in 2005.
Parts of the report implicating Sizani and others were leaked, but the Grahamstown High Court later ruled that the report was a “nullity of no force and effect” as it had been signed by Judge Ronnie Pillay only in 2007, after the time period in which the commission had been allowed to function expired. -Saturday Star