Equal Education has expressed “serious concern” about the “repeated postponement” of the money laundering and theft trial of Nontuthuzela “Pankie” Sizani, wife of ANC chief whip Stone Sizani.
The trial was postponed on August 5 2013 in the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court for a year, after Sizani was unable to attend court proceedings due to a “medical condition” which could not be disclosed to the public or the state. The trial has now been postponed until January 26 2015, after Sizani’s defence team requested more time to review new documents.
In 2013, it emerged that Sizani was arrested in Port Elizabeth in December 2012 on charges of money laundering and theft totalling about R1.3-million. The charges dated back to when Sizani headed the city’s district early child development unit. She is accused of creating “ghost teachers” and then pocketing their salaries.
Stone Sizani was MEC for education in the Eastern Cape until 2002.
Equal Education has expressed deep concern about the “ongoing delays which have thus far prevented justice from being done”. “It is essential that those engaging in corrupt practices are held accountable, without fear or favour,” the organisation said in a statement.
Early child development ‘undermined’
The Eastern Cape remains the worst performing province in the country in terms of education, according to the organisation. The organisation has condemned fraud and corruption, saying that it is particularly “disturbing” in this case because early childhood development continues to be “undermined”.
“Early child development programmes are still mainly funded by parents (70% to 80%). This means that the type of corruption Sizani is accused of – which reduces the state’s ability to subsidise ECD – may literally take food out of the mouths of families who have to pay more for early child development. This type of corruption undermines opportunities to create sustainable employment and promote skills development in education for black women.
“Early child development workers are amongst the least protected in the country, and the most open to this type of exploitation. We call on the labour movement to help to organise and support these workers,” the statement said. – Sapa, staff reporter