Mapisa-Nqakula’s financial assistance request from Defence Department ‘unlawful and illegal’

South Africa - Pretoria - 04 April 2024. Former Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

South Africa - Pretoria - 04 April 2024. Former Speaker of Parliament Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 22, 2024


THE plea by former speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, for legal assistance from the Department of Defence and Military Veterans in her corruption trial is unlawful and should be outright rejected, say the DA and a political analyst.

On Friday, the Defence and Military Veterans Ministry confirmed in a statement that Minister Thandi Modise’s predecessor Mapisa-Nqakula had requested the department assist with her legal representation costs.

The request came as the former speaker faces 12 counts of corruption and one of money laundering after she allegedly solicited bribes from a defence contractor during her time at the helm of the Defence Department.

The ministry revealed that the request came through the Office of the Head of Legal Services at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). It was Major General Eric Mnisi who actioned such support prior to seeking counsel from the minister or the accounting officer, Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede, it said.

“General Mnisi’s handling of the matter without following existing protocols is tantamount to disrespect of executive authority in the Department of Defence.

“I have instructed the secretary of defence to look into Mnisi’s handling of the matter from an administrative point of view as there are protocols that must be followed for such requests,” Modise said in the statement.

The statement did add that Modise was currently applying her mind to the request by Mapisa-Nqakula, subject to the prescripts of the law with a view of protecting public funds.

The DA’s Kobus Marais stressed that the request for financial assistance by the former speaker ought to be rejected for the “highly irregular and potentially illegal” submission it was, and Modise should not to even be “applying her mind” to it, he said.

Should the minister accede to the request, the DA would not hesitate to take action to have it reviewed and set aside, Marais said.

“There is absolutely nothing that entitles Mapisa-Nqakula to financial support for her corruption trial from the Department of Defence. Any steps taken to authorise this will be wasteful expenditure and abuse of taxpayer money.

“Mapisa-Nqakula’s implied position that the alleged crimes were committed during her tenure as the minister of defence and therefore taxpayers should foot her legal bills, is perhaps the most ridiculous entitlement that has become the hallmark of the ANC’s deployed cadres,” Marais said.

If anything, considering that the former defence minister was being charged in her personal capacity for alleged acts of corruption, the DA defence spokesperson said it was a no-brainer that she should not be seeking legal aid from the same public purse she is alleged to have abused.

Aside from letting Mapisa-Nqakula fund her own defence, Marais called for the suspension of Mnisi pending a disciplinary hearing.

“Mapisa-Nqakula is desperate to continue with that despicable practice and the DA stands ready to ensure that she does not succeed.”

Political analyst Professor Dirk Kotze said while he understood the rationale behind the former defence minister’s request, as the charges stem from her time as the head of the department, the likelihood of the current Minister of Defence acceding to her plea for financial help with her current legal battles was unlikely as she had been out of the position for some time already.

Kotze said such a request was not unheard of as the country had witnessed issues with the Office of the Public Protector indicating Busisiwe Mkhwebane wasn’t entitled to funding for her legal representation in the inquiry into her fitness to hold office, even though she was still in office, albeit being suspended.

“In this case, she is accused in her private capacity but not because she had to take some decisions as the minister of the department which ended up being detrimental to others, therefore she cannot claim that she should be funded.

“There is no argument she did it for the department therefore the public purse cannot be roped into it,” he added.

Earlier this month, Mapisa-Nqakula was released on R50 000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court.

Attempts to get comment from Mapisa-Nqakula were unsuccessful at the time of publication.