Home South African Temporary reprieve for parliamentary Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Temporary reprieve for parliamentary Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

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Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will not be arrested for the time being, as the National Prosecuting Authority has undertaken to withhold her arrest until the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, has ruled on an application to halt her arrest.

While National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she wanted her day in court to prove her innocence, this should not be done by way of her arrest. Picture: Phando Jikelo, African News Agency (ANA)

SPEAKER of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula will not be arrested for the time being, as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has undertaken to withhold her arrest until the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, has ruled on an application to halt her arrest.

She turned to court on Monday in an urgent bid to avoid being arrested on corruption charges. Judge Sulet Potterill said she would deliver her judgment on April 2.

While Mapisa-Nqakula said she wanted her day in court to prove her innocence, this should not be done by way of her arrest.

Her advocate, Reg Willis SC, told Judge Potterill that Mapisa-Nqakula was willing to hand herself over to the Lyttelton police station on April 3, to be processed and taken to court.

This was the first date that her lawyer is available and this was communicated to the NPA. Willis said up to this day the State won’t give an undertaking that they will not arrest her beforehand.

“What is the urgency (in arresting her beforehand),” Willis questioned.

He said that as things stand, she could be arrested at any time. This, while the State fully knew her attorney is at present busy until April 3.

While the judge reserved her judgment, Willis said they want protection from being arrested in the interim.

He also argued that if this is how the State treated one of the most influential people in the country, being the Speaker, he shuddered to know how the NPA would be treating “one of us”.

Advocate Makhosi Gwala, for the State, argued that Mapisa-Nqakula cannot dictate to them when she would present herself to the police station. If this is allowed in her case, millions of South Africans facing prosecution would expect the same, he said.

He questioned why she should be treated differently. “The law knows no position … Why should the law grind differently in her case.”

Mapisa-Nqakula, who was not in court on Monday, meanwhile, also wants to be given full disclosure of all information relating to her case, including the full docket, in order to be able to prepare her defence against what she regards as baseless allegations against her.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who was minister of Defence from 2012 to 2021, is accused of receiving millions of rand in cash as bribes from a military contractor. She has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

“The State’s case against me is non-existent and contrived. They want to paint me as guilty,” she said.

Her lawyer, Stephen May, meanwhile accused the State of disclosing information to the media, while withholding information from Mapisa-Nqakula.

“There has been a one-sided flood of contradictory information leaked to the media by the NPA, aimed to heighten the urban legend that my client is a flight risk and to justify an arrest.”

May said in an answering affidavit that there is no ground for an arrest and added the NPA even said that if she was to be arrested, they would not oppose her bail.

“There are less invasive steps that may be taken to secure my client’s attendance at court, if there is a case for enrolment of the matter against my client, at all.”

May added that Mapisa-Nqakula has consistently indicated that she embraces the legal process and the rule of law and is anxious to come to court and restore her reputation and prove the allegations against her are false. But this should not be done by way of an arrest, he said.

Bheki Manyathi, deputy director of public prosecutions in the Investigating Directorate, responded that Mapisa-Nqakula knew since March 9 that a decision had been taken to prosecute her for corruption.

He denied that her application is urgent, as she has not been charged yet and her criminal matter has not been enrolled.

He said this urgent application launched by her came as a surprise to him, because it was instituted at the time when he was still engaging her through her legal representative to hand her over at a police station for processing in preparation for the enrolment of the matter.

He accused Mapisa-Nqakula and her lawyer of not acting in good faith.

Manyathi said the NPA never threatened to arrest her. Instead there has been a courtesy extended to her to present herself to the law-enforcement agents to charge her and process her for appearance in court.

He made it clear that the investigation in her matter is complete and that on March 10 a decision to prosecute her was made. The fact that a search-and-seizure was done at her home last week does not mean that the investigation is incomplete, he said.

Manyathi said Mapisa-Nqakula does not have a right not to be arrested, nor does she have the right at this stage to receive a full disclosure of the case docket.

“The rights to dignity (including her good name, reputation) are not threatened,” he said, stating that the NPA “would like to make the process as seamless as possible”.

Manyathi said they certainly have a good case against Mapisa-Nqakula and that there is evidence under oath that gratifications (bribes) were asked for by her and given to her in cash and a wig.

“Besides the whistle-blower’s affidavit, there is ample independent evidence that corroborates the witness who allegedly gave the gratifications to the applicant.” The wig was recovered during the search at her residence.

Manyathi said that according to their evidence, she was given a total of R2,550,000 in cash, which will form part of the corruption charges to be levelled against her.

While he did not want to share the charge sheet at this stage, Manyathi gave the court a glimpse into 12 corruption charges that he said will form part of the charge sheet.

The total amount stated on the charge sheet reflects corruption worth R4.55 million. Manyathi explained that the R2m referred to in one of the counts “was asked for by the applicant but was not paid by the witness”.

According to this charge sheet, the first alleged incident of corruption occurred in December 2016 and the last was in July 2019.

Manyathi said that in light of the evidence, Mapisa-Nqakula definitely has a case to answer to.

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