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Embattled Speaker of the South African parliament fights arrest over R2-million graft

IN a shock and bizarre move, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, the Speaker of Parliament, has turned to the court in a desperate attempt to stop her arrest on charges of fraud, corruption and has demanded special treatment.

Mapisa, who went on special leave after her house was raided by law enforcement agencies, has now demanded, in court papers, that the police must disclose the evidence against her and arrange a date for her arrest.

Her demand, described as bizarre to the extreme in legal circles, flies against the law in South Africa, where suspects are arrested on the strength of prima facie evidence against them. They then go to court to argue the merits of the case against them.

In papers before the Gauteng North High Court, Mapisa-Nqakula claimed that there was no case against her and alleged that the action against her was politically motivated.

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The Speaker has pronounced herself innocent of allegations that she received kickbacks amounting to R2.3-million from a contractor who won several contracts from the SA Department of Defence at a time when Mapisa-Nqakula was the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

“I am a senior person and the respondents rushing me into a police cell for reasons other than that I am a flight risk, is a threat to my health and life,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in court papers.

She added: ““I have devoted the majority of my adult life to the pursuit of the rule of law and constitutional democracy, and the demise of the security state in South Africa. The machinery of the criminal justice system and the state’s prerogative of prosecution was abused and used as a political tool then. I verily fear that this practice has once again reared its ugly head and, if not stopped, carries the real risk of further fraying the constitutional fabric of our young democracy.”

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In an application filed in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, Mapisa-Nqakula asks that the officials who are investigating her be interdicted and restrained from arresting her “whether under Section 40 or 43 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977”. Those sections deal with an accused person being taken into custody through the use of a warrant of arrest.

Mapisa-Nqakula also wants law enforcement officials to be ordered “to arrange a date” with her attorneys for her to be summoned to appear in the magistrate’s court that has the appropriate jurisdiction to deal with her initial court appearance.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who was defence minister from 2012 to 2021, has denied wrongdoing.

“Given the seriousness of the allegations and the attendant extensive media speculation, I have decided to take special leave from my position as Speaker of the National Assembly, effective immediately,” Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement.

She said there has been no formal notification of an arrest warrant or communication regarding her imminent arrest, following local media reports that she was expected to hand herself over to police on Friday.

“My lawyers have, however, proactively informed the National Prosecution Authority of my readiness to comply and cooperate should the need arise,” she said.

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By The African Mirror

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