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S.African parliament ex-speaker charged with graft, granted bail

SOUTH African prosecutors charged former National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula with corruption and money laundering, a day after she resigned following an inquiry into alleged graft during her time as defence minister.

She was granted bail by a court in the capital Pretoria shortly after the charges were made public. Mapisa-Nqakula has denied any wrongdoing.

Mapisa-Nqakula, 67, whose residence was raided by investigators last month as part of the inquiry, had also resigned as a member of the parliament on Wednesday.

Lead prosecutor Bheki Manyathi told the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court that Mapisa-Nqakula was being charged with 12 counts of corruption and one of money laundering.

“The court is satisfied that the amount initially suggested (for bail) of 50,000 rand ($2,678) is adequate in this matter,” Magistrate Anna Oosthuizen said in a ruling. As part of bail conditions, Mapisa-Nqakula must surrender her passport.

The case will be back in court on June 4.

In an affidavit before the ruling, a lawyer for Mapisa-Nqakula argued that the former speaker was not a flight risk and that she voluntarily had come to court.

Mapisa-Nqakula earlier this week lost a court bid to prevent authorities from arresting her. She handed herself over to police earlier on Thursday before appearing in court.

A veteran of the governing African National Congress who was defence minister from 2012 to 2021, Mapisa-Nqakula is accused of receiving millions of rand in cash as bribes from a former military contractor.

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“My resignation is in no way an indication or admission of guilt regarding the allegations being levelled against me,” she said on Wednesday.

Prosecutors have not publicly disclosed the details surrounding the allegations or evidence against her. They did not object to her bail.

By SIYABONGA SISHI and BHARGAV ACHARYA

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