AN anonymous letter to the provincial Education Department was the undoing of an ANC MP’s wife who was caught out for allegedly creating “ghost” teachers and then pocketing their salaries.
Portia “Pankie” Sizani, 46, pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud and money- laundering, totalling R1.2-million, on the first day of her trial in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
Her husband, ANC parliamentary chief whip Stone Sizani, was not present and the glamorous Sizani was instead supported by a group of women friends.
The trial – delayed by a year due to Sizani’s alleged ill-health – got off to a dramatic start when the court issued a warrant of arrest for one of the alleged ghost teachers, Sizani’s niece, Amanda Noluntshungu.
Prosecutor Ronelle Brink said Noluntshungu, who was subpoenaed to testify yesterday, had previously informed her of the reasons why she did not want to be in court.
“We know where she is and the police will fetch her,” Brink said.
Sizani, of Summerstrand, was employed as coordinator of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) programme at the provincial Education Department at the time of the alleged fraud.
The ECD provides for the appointment of Grade R teachers at Eastern Cape schools.
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. – Kathryn Kimberley
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