/ 25 March 2024

We won’t obey your timetable, NPA tells Mapisa-Nqakula in graft arrest saga

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Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. (Photo by Felix Dlangamandla/Daily Maverick/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is not above the law and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will not obey her timetable in its attempts to arrest her on 12 corruption charges and one of money laundering involving R4.5 million. 

Advocate Makhosi Gwala SC made the arguments on behalf of the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID) on Monday in the Pretoria high court, where the state rebuked the embattled speaker’s attempts to block her expected arrest until she receives the case docket, including statements from the witness who allegedly doled out cash bribes to her. 

Mapisa-Nqakula — according to advocate Reginald Willis, her legal representation — wanted to hand herself over for arrest at the Lyttelton police station on 3 April, when her attorney, Stephen May, would have supposedly concluded with a separate matter he is part of in KwaZulu-Natal. 

Willis argued on Monday that May was the speaker’s “attorney of choice”, adding that Mapisa-Nqakula wanted him to be present when she is charged at the Pretoria magistrate’s court and for her bail application, which the state said it would not oppose. 

On the requirement of the case docket before the arrest, the advocate cited a 3 March Sunday Times article, which quoted the South African National Defence Force contractor, who allegedly bribed his client between 2016 and 2019 when Mapisa-Nqakula was the defence and military veterans minister, a post she held until 2021. 

Willis said that based on the 3 March article, the speaker’s legal team viewed the state’s case as weak because the speaker had representations to make regarding the state witness’s quoted affidavit. Willis added that the representations would show that there was no need to arrest his client. 

But Gwala, on behalf of the NPA and ID, said the arrangements the state made for Mapisa-Nqakula to hand herself over were not “negotiations” but a courtesy, adding that Section 35 of the Constitution, which dealt with the right to legal representation, did not apply to the speaker yet because she was yet to be arrested. 

Gwala rejected Willis’s assertion that the state should wait for 3 April before charging Mapisa-Nqakula, saying allowing that to happen would be viewed negatively by the public, which would believe that the speaker, owing to her position, was above the law. 

“Is it in the interest of justice for [the] NPA to work on a timetable that is set by an attorney (May)?” Gwala asked. 

“If the applicant [Mapisa-Nqakula] was in hospital, it would be a different story. In this case, it is not even [for] the convenience of the applicant — it is the convenience of the attorney,” he added. 

The judgment in the matter was reserved for 2 April, with the NPA agreeing not to arrest Mapisa-Nqakula before the high court delivers its ruling. 

Meanwhile, an affidavit filed by advocate Bheki Manyathi — the deputy director of public prosecutions in the ID — revealed that the state planned to slap 12 charges of corruption and one for money laundering on the speaker, who took “special leave” from her position last Thursday. 

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Manyathi provided a list of 12 alleged payments the SANDF contractor made to the speaker, with dates supplied on when the alleged bribes were received. 

According to the NPA, in December 2016, she received R700 000 from the service provider in two payments, and a further R350 000 was allegedly given to her in two transactions dated July and November 2017. 

In August of the following year, she allegedly gained a further R250 000 before, the state claims, amassing R450 000 in cash bribes a month later, as well as the alleged failed R2 million demand Mapisa-Nqakula made to the business person. 

The remainder of the R800 000 was allegedly given to her in February, April and July 2019, including an alleged R300 000 payment and a wig the contractor is said to have given to her at OR Tambo International Airport. Seven of the payments, the state claims, were made in the Johannesburg suburb of Bruma, where Mapisa-Nqakula’s house is.