Portia Sizani dressed in Gucci shoes and a matching Gucci handbag. File photo: Raahil Sain/ANA.

PORT ELIZABETH - An application by the defence to have convicted fraudster Portia Sizani’s case taken on special review was dismissed in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday. 

Earlier in March, Sizani, wife of South Africa’s ambassador to Germany and former African National Congress Chief Whip Stone Sizani, was found guilty of 15 counts of fraud and nine counts of money laundering.

She 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 appointed “ghost teachers” and pocketed their pay during 2009 and 2010.

In July, defence advocate Johan Wessels brought the application for special review citing that the defence was forced to close its case when it was not ready to do so. 

However, Magistrate Mputumi Mpofu said in his judgment that the court had to declare the defence’s case closed because it refused to do so. 

The defence had refused to close its case because some state documents were not provided. This in spite of the fact that the state was not in possession of these documents, Mpofu said. 

Mpofu said the court had ordered the state to provide the defence with all documents, including CVs but the state was not in possession of them. 

“For such reason court satisfied all avenues were exhausted. Throughout proceedings court been drawn along by both parties..defence opted to use negative language saying no reason to delay proceedings any further. So the suggestion in effect came from the defence,” said Mpofu. 

The ECD programme provided for the appointment of Grade R teachers at Eastern Cape schools.

Sizani was arrested in December 2012 and the trial was delayed for more than a year due to her alleged ill health. When the trial eventually kicked off more delays saw the case drag on for years. 

Sizani started working for the department as a teacher in East London in 1991 and slowly worked her way up the ranks. Her husband was the former education MEC and resigned from that position in 2002. 

The defence asked for a postponement and sought a copy and transcription of Mpofu’s judgment. 

The case was postponed until August 27 and Sizani's bail was extended.

African News Agency (ANA)