Speaker loses bid to halt her arrest

The Speaker of Parliament Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

The Speaker of Parliament Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 2, 2024


In a blow for Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Gauteng High Court Pretoria dismissed her urgent application to halt her arrest, and found that it was mere speculation on her part that the arrest would be unlawful.

Judge Sulet Potterill said that the National Prosecuting Authority and the police were in fact lenient towards her. Mapisa-Nqakula was told to present herself at a police station so that she could be processed and taken to court.

To date, she has not done so.

The judge also pointed out that the NPA had given an assurance that it would not oppose bail. Thus, the judge said, there was no urgency in a case where someone’s liberty is not at stake.

It was argued on behalf of Mapisa-Nqakula that the matter was urgent as her “unlawful arrest is imminent and set to take her and her legal representative by surprise.”

It was further argued that an arrest would harm her dignity as an ordinary citizen “merely by virtue of her office as Speaker”.

Judge Poterill was told Mapisa-Nqakula believed that the state’s pending case against her was weak and riddled with irregularities, and could not justify her arrest.

The speaker also complained about media leaks regarding her case - which was vehemently denied by the NPA.

The judge pointed out that Mapisa-Nqakula had known since March 8 that an arrest was imminent. But for weeks since then no arrest has been made, and the NPA had engaged with her and her team to hand herself over at a police station.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s lawyer said he was busy with a trial in Durban and he could only accompany her to the Lyttelton police station on April 3.

The judge pointed out that Mapisa-Nqakula had launched her main urgent application - due to be heard on April 9 - while the NPA was still negotiating with her lawyer for her to hand herself over.

Judge Potterill said the threat of an arrest alone was not a basis for an urgent application, especially if there was no risk of detention.

Whether there was a weak case against Mapisa-Nqakula was speculative and the court could not regard it as ground for urgency, she said.

Judge Potterill said if the court did issue an interdict against the arrest of Mapisa-Nqakula, it would open the floodgates for other suspects to turn to the courts to avoid arrest, and to argue that the state case against them was weak.

“The whole criminal justice system will then fold and be controlled by suspects,” she said.

Regarding the request by Mapisa-Nqakula’s legal team for her to take a “judicial peek” into the case docket against the Speaker to ascertain whether the state had a strong case, the judge said she felt there was no need for her to do so.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga, meanwhile, remained mum on the next step in bringing Mapisa-Nqakula before a criminal court. He said the NPA did not discuss pending arrests and investigations.

He, however, did say that following this judgment, the wheels would now be in motion to bring Mapisa-Nqakula to court.

Pretoria News

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