Portia 'Pankie' Sizani guilty on 15 counts of fraud in ghost teachers trial
Portia "Pankie" Sizani has been convicted on 15 counts of fraud and nine counts of money laundering.
The offences date back to when she was the education department's early childhood development (ECD) district co-ordinator.
Sizani, wife of South Africa's ambassador to Germany, Stone Sizani, siphoned off more than R1.2m after she created "ghost teachers" and pocketed their salaries between 2009 and 2010.
The Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court has released her on bail of R5,000 pending sentencing later this year.
During the trial, several state witnesses told the court that "assumption of duty forms" had been completed and signed off by Sizani for teachers to take up positions at various schools in and around Port Elizabeth.
According to the state, Sizani signed off at least 16 of these forms before sending them to the department of education’s human resources department and then to the finance department for payment.
In 2015, the Herald newspaper reported on testimony by a Port Elizabeth woman who said Sizani told her to hand over R20,000 to her after money was deposited into her bank account by the Eastern Cape education department. This was done despite the woman not being employed by the department. She got R2,800 for her part in the deal.