Portia “Pankie” Sizani‚ wife of South Africa’s ambassador to Germany‚ Stone Sizani‚ will have to stay the course in her fraud and money laundering trial after she failed in her high court bid to review the presiding magistrate’s decision not to recuse himself.
The 49-year-old former Early Childhood Development (ECD) district coordinator stands accused of defrauding the provincial education department by creating “ghost” teachers and pocketing their salariesbetween 2009 and 2010.
Sizani contended that acting regional magistrate in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Port Elizabeth‚ Mputumi Mpofu‚ was biased against her and she applied for him to recuse himself. Mpofu rejected her allegations of bias and refused to recuse himself. Sizani resorted to the Grahamstown High Court to review his decision.
It was argued that Sizani had developed the perception of bias from the way in which Mpofu always ruled against her during her trial.
But Judge Jeremy Pickering said on Tuesday that none of the alleged manifestations of bias pointed out by Sizani‚ viewed singly or collectively‚ could give rise to a perception of bias on the part of a reasonable or objective person.
He dismissed the application.