Temporary lifeline for parliamentary Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

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 Mar 25, 2024


No arrest is imminent for Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula until April 2, after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) undertook to halt this process pending the outcome of her application not to be arrested.

She asked for an interim interdict preventing her arrest on corruption charges. The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, on Monday reserved judgment in the matter.

Her advocate, however, asked the court for protection pending its judgment, as the court was told that the NPA could arrest her at any moment.

The NPA, gave the assurance that she will not be arrested pending the outcome of the judgment. The arguments lasted until early evening.

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 Sulet 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 as things stand, she could be arrested at any time. This, while the State fully knew her attorney was busy until April 3.

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

He also argued that if this was how the State treated one of the most influential people in the country, being the Speaker, he shuddered to think 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 yesterday, 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 during her tenure. 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 was 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 had known since March 9 that a decision had been taken to prosecute her over alleged corruption.

He denied that her application was 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 herself 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 appearance in court.

He made it clear that the investigation in her matter was 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 was incomplete, he said.

Manyathi said Mapisa-Nqakula does not have a right not to be arrested, nor has she got 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 was evidence under oath that gratifications (bribes) were asked for by her and given to her in cash and a wig.

Pretoria News

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