Ex-Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula accused of bribery

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Former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been accused of soliciting more than R2 million in cash bribes from Nombasa Ndhlovu, who was at the time working in the military logistics industry and married to a general in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that Ndhlovu allegedly made ten payments to Mapisa-Nqakula while she was Minister of Defence, totalling R2.3 million between November 2016 and July 2019. In an affidavit, Ndhlovu said Mapisa-Nqakula made several demands for cash, initially through the late secretary of defence Dr Sam Gulube and then directly.

According to her affidavit, Ndhlovu first began interacting with Mapisa-Nqakula in 2016 when experiencing frustration with the suspension of a R104 million tender her company Umkhombe Marine had been awarded to transport cargo to Sudan.

Ndhlovu was arrested in October 2020 and released on R80 000 bail for fraud, involving approximately R100 million, over the Sudan matter and other SANDF contracts.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwena said at the time that “a tender was awarded by the SANDF to Umkhombe Marine Pty Ltd (the legal entity belonging to Mrs Ndhlovu) to transport SANDF equipment back to SA from African countries. The contract value was approximately R24 million.”

Ndhlovu apparently provided false information or documents as part of the tender process, and according to Ngwema thereafter was awarded another contract of R104 million, again to transport SANDF equipment. “But the soldiers were recalled from service [in Sudan] and this led to the cancellation of the second contract.” Ndhlovu then claimed R30 million in false expenses from the SANDF, Times Live reported.

In 2016, in place of the cancelled contract, Ndhlovu received a transport contract for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), valued at R79 million. Ndhlovu’s husband, Major General Noel Ndhlovu, apparently rubber-stamped the mission contracts as he was on the SANDF’s Joint Operations committee. After his wife’s arrest, Noel was placed on special leave.

Ndhlovu’s affidavit stated that the first request and payment of cash bribes from Mapisa-Nqakula was through Gulube in November 2016 when he told her that the minister had requested R300 000 from her. Ndhlovu was told that Mapisa-Nqakula was not only asking for money from her but “other suppliers who have tenders from her department.”

Ndhlovu was due to go to court at the beginning of this year, but she last week told defenceWeb her case had been struck off the roll on 1 March.

After claiming she was “put up as a sacrificial lamb,” Ndhlovu accused Mapisa-Nqakula of soliciting and being paid up to R2.3 million in cash.

The Sunday Times reported that an investigation into Mapisa-Nqakula began six months ago.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s spokesperson Mike Ramagoma said she “maintains her innocence” and will cooperate with investigators.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said Mapisa-Nqakula must resign or parliament’s impeachment processes must start.

Mapisa-Nqakula was elected as the speaker of Parliament in August 2021 following her a Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the July unrest that year.