/ 22 March 2024

To be arrested or not? Mapisa-Nqakula, lawyer differ on her corruption case

Mama Winnie Mandela Laid To Rest In South Africa
Embattled National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.(Photo by Gallo Images / Frennie Shivambu)

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s refusal to be arrested on corruption and money-laundering charges involving R4 million puts her at loggerheads with her lawyer, who said the embattled speaker would hand herself to the police “in due course”. 

A letter dated 18 March 2024 to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and authored by Mapisa-Nqakula’s attorney, Stephen May, stated that the lawyer would accompany his client “to facilitate her being processed at the Lyttleton police station, and then be taken to the Pretoria magistrate’s court [to be charged]”. 

The letter, which forms part of the beleaguered speaker’s Pretoria high court application filed on Friday morning halting her imminent arrest, echoes what May told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday; that Mapisa-Nqakula would present herself for arrest “in due course”. 

“There is certainly no desire to avoid a truth-finding process. We do have grave concerns about the timing at which this comes and are very concerned about the nature and strength of the case of the state,” May said. 

“It would certainly appear that it is flimsy at best and now what it seems or looks like might be an opportunistic time [to charge her].”

Mapisa-Nqakula is expected to be charged with multiple corruption and money-laundering charges involving more than R4 million for allegedly gratification” — the legal term for cash bribes — worth more than R4 million from a former South African National Defence Force contractor between 2016 and 2019. 

The alleged bribes happened during Mapisa-Nqakula’s term as defence and military veterans minister, a post she held from 2012 to 2021.

Mapisa-Nqakula took “special leave” from the National Assembly’s speaker chair on Thursday in a move the Democratic Alliance labelled a “cop-out”, calling on her to resign in a statement announcing a motion of no confidence against her in parliament. 

In her high court application affidavit, contrary to her lawyer’s assertion, the speaker said she wanted “disclosure” of the case docket before handing herself over, saying getting the docket would “shine a light on [the] unlawful conduct” she accused the state to have committed in a case she said had no merit. 

Her affidavit’s contentions were reiterated in a statement she issued on Friday, “demanding” the “full disclosure of all material information relating to the case, including the full docket in order to be able to prepare [the] defence against…baseless allegations against her” 

“In her [court] papers, the speaker urges the NPA to provide to her the details of the case against her as this seems to have already been given to the media, subjecting her to a trial by the media, without any means to defend herself against these public allegations.”