Mapisa-Nqakula’s fall from grace: From head of Parliament to the dock

Corruption and money laundering accused Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was released on R50 000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

Corruption and money laundering accused Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was released on R50 000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 5, 2024


From being Speaker of the National Assembly to now being an accused and a pensioner – Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had her first dreaded day in the dock on Thursday and was released on R50 000 bail after being in custody for about five hours.

Not showing any visible emotion, Mapisa-Nqakula, 67, entered the dock at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, accompanied by members of the State’s investigating team and the police.

She patiently sat and endured the flashing media cameras and did not once glance in the direction of her husband, Charles Nqakula, good friend Baleka Mbete and others who sat in the public gallery as support.

It was a long day for her, as she handed herself over to the police at the Lyttelton police station shortly after 7am. Since then she remained in custody until bail was granted and paid, shortly after 2pm on Thursday afternoon.

The charge sheet, containing 12 charges of corruption and one of money laundering, was officially handed over to her legal team before her appearance.

In a surprise turn of events, and shortly before the end of the bail proceedings on Thursday afternoon, the prosecution announced that the State was planning to add another accused to join Mapisa-Nqakula in the dock during the next court date on June 4.

Lead prosecutor Bheki Manyathi told magistrate Ann Oosthuizen that the prosecution wanted to add another accused and that they thus needed a postponement until June to finalise their plans in this regard.

He remained mum about who the second accused would be, but said the decision to add another accused followed the search and seizure operation at Mapisa-Nqakula’s home last month, when the State seized certain items. This led to further investigations, he said.

He also told the magistrate that the court will, at a later stage, be asked to transfer the trial to the high court.

While the prosecution did not oppose bail for Mapisa-Nqakula, Manyathi did ask the magistrate to set the amount at R100 000, bearing in mind the amount involved in the alleged corruption charges was R4.5million.

Graham Kerr-Phillips, the advocate who appeared on behalf of Mapisa-Nqakula, however, stressed that she was now an ordinary pensioner, as she was no longer the Speaker.

He said in light of this, an amount of R100 000 was too steep for her to pay.

He proposed that bail be set as R50 000, which the magistrate accepted.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s husband looked relieved when bail was set at R50 000. It was said that this was the amount which he had brought to court to post as bail.

Although the prosecution did not oppose bail, it was still in the court’s hands whether to grant her bail or not.

In this regard, Kerr-Phillips read out an affidavit by Mapisa-Nqakula, in which she once again vehemently denied any wrongdoing, but said she respected the rule of law.

In her bid to obtain bail, she said she was no threat to either the public or any of the witnesses who would testify against her. She repeatedly said that the State’s case against her was weak.

She cited in her affidavit several media reports, which spoke of a section 204 witness (who is testifying for the State in a bid to receive indemnity from prosecution) who blew the whistle against her. She said there appeared to be only a single witness against her.

Manyathi later hit back and assured the court that the 204 witness was not the only witness. He said there were several witnesses and he assured the court that the State had many others besides.

He said the State would on Monday hand over the list of witnesses to Mapisa-Nqakula’s legal team.

Mapisa-Nqakula, meanwhile, further said in her affidavit that she in any event did not know at this stage what the State’s case against her was, other than what she saw in the media.

She said she would not divulge her defence at this stage and she opted to remain silent in this regard until she knew fully what the State’s case was.

In assuring the court that she was not a flight risk, she said she would lose too much if she did not face her trial. “I embrace the legal system and I’m willing to co-operate with the investigating team,” she said.

She also pointed out that she had voluntarily handed herself over to the police on Thursday.

The official charge sheet, meanwhile, at this stage names Mapisa-Nqakula as the only accused.

In the preamble to the charges, it is stated that at all times relevant to the charges, she was the minister of defence.

It further states that Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu was at the time the sole director of Umkhombe Marine Ltd, whose core business was to provide logistic services to the SANDF on a procurement basis.

It is said that in February 2016, the company was awarded a contract by the SANDF to the value of R104m.

In August 2016, the company was awarded a “replacement” contract by the SANDF to the value of R79m.

Three months later, Mapisa-Nqakula allegedly requested the late Secretary of Defence, Sam Gulube, to approach Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu and request to pay her R300 000.

It is said that a few days later, Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu allegedly handed the money to Gulube.

According to the charge sheet, a second request was made by Gulube on behalf of Mapisa-Nqakula for an amount of R400 000.

Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu apparently declined to pay and instead sought a meeting with Mapisa-Nqakula.

They met, according to the charge sheet, and it was allegedly agreed that all future engagements would be directly between the two of them.

It is alleged that from then on –between December 2016 up to July 2019 – Mapisa-Nqakula from time to time asked for payment. These alleged payments – totalling R4.5m, form the basis of the 12 corruption charges.

Cape Times