The lengthy trial of Portia “Pankie” Sizani will finally reach the halfway mark in August, where she will get a chance to defend herself.
Sizani, 49, a former Early Childhood Development (ECD) district coordinator, stands accused of defrauding the Eastern Cape Education Department.
It is alleged that, between 2009 and 2010, she created “ghost” teachers and pocketed their salaries, amounting to R1.2-million.
While the state closed its case on July 2016, Sizani made her first appearance in 2013.
She did not appear in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court yesterday. The case was postponed to August 13. In November 2016 Sizani’s legal team brought an application to have the presiding magistrate, Mputumi Mpofu, recuse himself.
Sizani claimed Mpofu could be biased as his wife worked for the education department.
Mpofu dismissed the application as his wife had stopped working for the department in 2013.
Sizani then took the matter to the Grahamstown High Court to review the decision but Judge Jeremy Pickering dismissed the application.