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3 Apr, 2024 11:49

South Africa’s house speaker faces arrest, denies taking bribes

House speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is accused of taking bribes of $135,000 when she was Minister of Defence
South Africa’s house speaker faces arrest, denies taking bribes

South African parliamentary speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is on the verge of being arrested on suspicion of corruption. A court on Tuesday rejected her application to block being taken into custody by police and charged by prosecutors.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is accused of accepting $135,000 in bribes over a three-year period while serving as defense minister. The charges also include accepting a wig as a bribe. She denies all the graft allegations.

She allegedly received over $15,000 and the wig during a meeting in February 2019 at an international airport in South Africa. Prosecutors are also claiming that the politician probably solicited an additional bribe of $105,000, which was not paid. The alleged presenter of the purported bribe was a representative of the country’s defense forces.

Last month, the Sunday Times reported that the Investigating Directorate (ID) was conducting an investigation into the speaker regarding accusations of receiving millions of rand in cash bribes from a defense-forces contractor. The investigation claims she was given a payment of just over $122,000 (2.3 million rand) via gift bags in cash from defense-sector businesswoman Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, who is also the wife of a military general.

Mapisa-Nqakula sought legal recourse to contest the validity of the search-and-seizure warrant issued by the Investigating Directorate, as well as the conduct of the operation carried out at her Johannesburg residence last month. Additionally, she requested that the court disclose the evidence it holds against her. 

Addressing reporters following the verdict, National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga refrained from outlining any timing for the politician’s arrest but affirmed that the ruling cleared the path for its execution.

“Obviously the wheels of justice will now be in motion, as we were listening to the judgment, which was well reasoned,” Mhaga stated.

On March 24, the African National Congress party commented on the affair: “Comrade Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s special leave from Parliament due to law enforcement actions and allegations against her,” it said.

The party is gearing up for a national election on May 29, facing the possibility of losing its overall majority for the first time since it assumed power three decades ago.

Mapisa-Nqakula, a 67-year-old activist with a long history in the anti-apartheid movement, assumed the role of speaker in 2021, following her seven-year tenure as defense minister.

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