PORT ELIZABETH – Portia “Pankie” Sizani, wife of the ANC Chief Whip in Parliament, was found not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court on Tuesday.Sizani still faces 16 counts of fraud and 10 counts of money laundering.
Prosecutor Ronelle Brink closed the State’s case on Monday following a lengthy trial against Sizani who is accused of defrauding the Eastern Cape Education Department out of more than R1,2-million by processing several fraudulent applications for Grade R teaching posts.
Sizani was the Early Childhood Development (ECD) district co-ordinator at the time she allegedly appointed “ghost teachers” and pocketed their pay during 2009 and 2010.
The ECD provides for the appointment of Grade R teachers at Eastern Cape schools.
In 2014 she pleaded not guilty to 31 counts of fraud and money-laundering against her.
Defence advocate, Johan Wessels had applied in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act for Sizani to be discharged on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her.
Section 174 states that if, at the close of the prosecution’s case, the court believed there was no evidence that the accused committed the offence concerned, it could return a verdict of not guilty.
It emerged in court on Monday that the five witnesses who were to testify in the matters relating to the five counts against her could not be traced.
Wessels, in addition on Tuesday, indicated that the defence would also apply for her to be discharged of the remainder of the charges against her.
The case was postponed until July 26 for the State and defence to present heads of argument.