An application for the recusal of the magistrate presiding over the R1.2million fraud case against Portia “Pankie” Sizani was dismissed yesterday.
Sizani, 48, is accused of defrauding the Eastern Cape Department of Education by creating “ghost” teachers and pocketing their salaries.
In the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court, magistrate Mputumi Mpofu dismissed an application for his recusal.
Advocate Renee van Rooyen SC brought the application on behalf of the defence earlier this week, claiming Mpofu could be biased as his wife worked for the education department. But Mpofu said his wife had stopped working for the department in 2013.
“The court is of the view that [the magistrate] won’t be biased and therefore the application is refused,” Mpofu said.
Sizani’s defence advocate, Johan Wessels, said he would take Mpofu’s decision to a higher court on review.
Sizani is married to Stone Sizani, who was named ambassador to Germany earlier this year.
State advocate Ronelle Brink said the review could run parallel with the criminal case.
“The defence is free to make such an application. Our courts are extremely reluctant to interfere.”
Mpofu postponed the matter to July 31.