The wife of former African National Congress (ANC) chief whip 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 a newspaper report.
Portia Sizani, who was the Early Childhood Development district coordinator at the time, had allegedly appointed ghost teachers and pocketed their pay during 2009 and 2010.
The case has been dragging since she was arrested in 2012 after being accused of defrauding the Eastern Cape department of education by fraudulently processing the salaries of Grade R teachers.
She was then found guilty of 15 counts of money laundering, in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), although five witnesses who were supposed to testify in the case could no longer be traced.
She had begun working for the department of education as a teacher in East London in 1991 and had done enough to work up the ranks. Sizani had lodged an application for the case to be dismissed, but Magistrate Mputumi Mpofu dismissed the application in 2016 adding that she had a case to answer to.
Sizani’s lawyers then lodged an application later that same year for the Magistrate to recuse himself from the case as his wife worked in the department of education and the defence argued that this could result in him being biased, this was also dismissed.
The state presented evidence including testimonies from teachers and principals over an 18-month period before concluding its case in February of 2016. The matter was only concluded this week and Sizani’s lawyers have not indicated whether she will appeal the conviction.
Sizani is the wife of former education MEC, Stone, who resigned in 2002 before joining the ANC in parliament and then becoming a chief whip from 2013 until leaving that post to become South African’s ambassador to Germany in 2016.