Mapisa-Nqakula takes special leave after bribery claims, raid

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Given what she terms “the seriousness of allegations” and “attendant extensive media speculation” National Assembly (NA) speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has gone on special leave.

The allegations and speculation come in the wake of a Sunday Times report earlier this month linking her to bribery allegations in connection with multi-million Rand contracts to move SA National Defence Force (SANDF) equipment back to South Africa from Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The contracts, the weekly newspaper reported, were awarded to Umkhombe Marine, whose chief executive officer is Nombasa Ndhlovu, until late last year chair of the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD).

Mapisa-Nqakula’s special leave statement, issued by Parliamentary Communication Services yesterday (21 March, Human Rights Day), follows a lengthy “search and seizure” at her Bruma, Johannesburg, house. It reads, in part: “I have decided to take special leave from my position as Speaker of the National Assembly, effective immediately. This decision has been communicated to the Secretary of Parliament and to the President of the Republic in his capacity as Head of State”.

“This decision by myself is meant to protect the integrity of Parliament and ensure its sacred duty and its name continue unblemished.”

The statement notes, in response to political and media speculation in the wake of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Investigative Directorate (ID) “raid”, “there has been no formal notification of an arrest warrant or communication regarding an imminent arrest for me [Mapisa-Nqakula], neither to me nor my legal team”. It further points out her lawyers “proactively informed” the NPA of her “readiness to comply and co-operate should the need arise”.

A statement by Mapisa-Nqakula’s office on Friday morning addressed media reports that she was going to hand herself in to the authorities today or be arrested, news which she said seems to have been sparked by a post by United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.

“These reports are simply not true and a fabrication by Mr Holomisa, who simply published these untruths without caring to verify the true facts or the harm that it does to the name of others,” the Speaker’s office said, and lambasted the media for not checking their facts.

“We can confirm that the Speaker and her family are at home and that she has had no interaction with the NPA ID since the Search and Seizure operation at her house on Tuesday, the 19th of March 2024. We can also confirm that this morning the Speaker has filed papers in court challenging the manner in which the search and seizure warrant was obtained and the operation itself. She also demands, within her right that she be given full disclosure of all material information relating to the case, including the full docket, in order to be able to prepare her defence against what she regards as baseless allegations against her.

“In her 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,” the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly said in its latest statement.

Mapisa-Nqakula remains on Special Leave from her official duties “as she prepares to defend herself against these allegations and flagrant tarnishing of her reputation with impunity. The Speaker’s legal team will communicate any developments in the case to both the public and the media.”