Picture: African News Agency

Port Elizabeth - A mammoth judgment got underway on Thursday in the R1.2 million fraud case against Portia “Pankie” Sizani, wife of SA’s ambassador to Germany and former ANC chief whip Stone Sizani.

The judgment which has been set down for two days at the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court got off to a slow start. Magistrate Mputumi Mpofu, for close on five hours, gave a summary of the voluminous evidence presented at the trial.

On Friday, Mpofu is expected to evaluate the evidence.

Two years ago, Portia Sizani was found not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her. The five counts Sizani was acquitted of charges related to witnesses that could not be traced.

She was subsequently also discharged on a sixth charge of money laundering. 

However, she still faces 16 counts of fraud and 9 counts 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.

Sizani was arrested in December 2012 and the trial was delayed for more than a year due to her alleged ill health.

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. 

African News Agency (ANA)