IT WAS common knowledge in Port Elizabeth that people were submitting CVs for grade R teaching posts to Portia Sizani, the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court heard on Wednesday.
That was what led Sandiswe Jaftha to come into contact with Ms Sizani, the wife of African National Congress parliamentary chief whip Stone Sizani, for the first time in January 2009. Ms Jaftha, who was not qualified to work as a grade R teacher, received a stipend from the department without lifting a finger.
The second of a string of ghost teachers called to testify in the fraud trial, Ms Jaftha, said she had met Ms Sizani in her office in January 2009, and handed over copies of her ID, CV and a record of her qualifications.
Ms Sizani, early childhood development district co-ordinator at the time, is accused of processing fraudulent applications that resulted in the irregular appointments of grade R practitioners, effectively costing the state in excess of R1.2m. She would allegedly obtain the personal details of teachers, apply for posts on their behalf and falsify the principal’s signature of approval. Once the money was paid by the department into the teachers’ accounts, Ms Sizani would allegedly inform them that a mistake had been made and that the money should be paid back to her.
Ms Jaftha said she did not know Ms Sizani on a personal level but they were related through Ms Sizani’s brother’s child.
She said in about October 2009, Ms Sizani called her back to her office, where she had to fill in banking forms. Then, one Sunday in November 2010, Ms Sizani allegedly arrived at her house. “She said (more than) R20,000 would be deposited into my account and I must not be surprised. She said the money was from the department.” An amount of R22,806 was deposited into her account the following day.
She alleged she was instructed to deposit R13,000 into a Nedbank account and R5,000 into an Absa account, both reportedly for the benefit of Ms Sizani’s niece. Ms Jaftha was allegedly told to use a further R2,000 to buy Colibri towels and Little Slipper shoes, and give it to a woman at Intercape to take to the niece in Pretoria. From late December, Ms Jaftha began receiving a monthly salary of R3,300.
A Special Investigating Unit probe revealed that Ms Sizani had allegedly signed an assumption of duty form on behalf of the principal of Dorothy Tomlinson Preschool in Kwazakhele, indicating Ms Jaftha began working there on April 1 2009.
Testifying earlier, Thandeka Mbopa, the acting district director between January 2008 and March 2009, said she had never given Ms Sizani permission to sign assumption of duty forms on her behalf.