Portia ‘Pankie’ Sizani at the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court. Picture: MIKE HOLMES/THE HERALD
Portia ‘Pankie’ Sizani at the Port Elizabeth Commercial Crimes Court. Picture: MIKE HOLMES/THE HERALD

Portia Sizani‚ wife of SA’s ambassador to Germany‚ Stone Sizani‚ resorted to the High Court in Grahamstown on Thursday, in a bid to force a magistrate to recuse himself from her fraud and money laundering trial.

Sizani’s counsel‚ advocate Johan Wessels‚ argued that there was much to substantiate Sizani’s subjective perception that Mputumi Mpofu, the magistrate presiding in her R1.2m fraud trial‚ was biased against her.

Wessels said it was largely because of the way in which Mpofu always ruled against her during her trial that she had developed her perception of bias.

According to Wessels, Mpofu had not been open to argument or persuasion even when direct evidence of indisputable fact had been placed before him.

The former early childhood development district co-ordinator stands accused of defrauding the provincial education department by creating "ghost" teachers and pocketing their salaries between 2009 and 2010.

Mpofu has already found Sizani not guilty on five of the 15 counts of money laundering against her, but she still faces more than a dozen counts of fraud and money laundering.

Advocate Albert Beyleveld SC‚ for Mpofu‚ said it could not be argued that the magistrate had not applied his mind to the argument.

"This was not the attitude of a magistrate who is prejudicing the accused because he is biased."

Sizani’s trial in the Port Elizabeth commercial crimes court was postponed in September to mid-February, pending the outcome of the review application argued on Thursday.

Judges Jeremy Pickering and Gerald Bloem reserved judgment.

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