Home South Africa Scandal rocks South Africa’s parliament as prosecutors allege that the speaker accepted...

Scandal rocks South Africa’s parliament as prosecutors allege that the speaker accepted a wig as a bribe

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South African prosecutors made a significant announcement on Monday, revealing their intention to charge Parliament Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula with corruption allegations. These accusations stem from purportedly accepting $135,000 and a wig as bribes during her tenure as defense minister over a span of three years.

Despite the gravity of the allegations, Mapisa-Nqakula has not been arrested or formally charged. During a court hearing, prosecutors addressed her claims of insufficient information and procedural irregularities, with a judge expected to rule on whether to issue a stay of arrest later in the day.

Court documents submitted by prosecutors for the hearing outline a series of 11 payments totaling $135,000 allegedly received by Mapisa-Nqakula between December 2016 and July 2019. Additionally, prosecutors claim she solicited a further bribe amounting to $105,000, which went unpaid.

One particularly notable instance cited in the papers occurred in February 2019, where Mapisa-Nqakula purportedly received over $15,000 along with a wig during a meeting at the country’s primary international airport. However, the identity of the individual who allegedly provided these bribes remains undisclosed.

Prosecutors extended an opportunity to Mapisa-Nqakula to voluntarily surrender at a police station and subsequently appear in court for formal charges, indicating that they would not oppose bail.

Despite the allegations, Mapisa-Nqakula vehemently denies any wrongdoing and expressed her willingness to cooperate with authorities following the search of her Johannesburg residence, during which evidence was seized.

In response to the allegations, Mapisa-Nqakula has opted to take a leave of absence from her duties as parliament speaker. This isn’t the first time she has faced accusations of corruption; a parliamentary inquiry into similar allegations was initiated in 2021 but later discontinued. However, the case resurfaced after a whistleblower stepped forward last year, according to prosecutors.

In another development, it was reported on Tuesday that a special investigations unit conducted a search of Mapisa-Nqakula’s residence, further intensifying the scrutiny surrounding her.

Confirmation of the search and seizure operation at her Johannesburg home was provided through an official statement from parliament.

News of the investigation into Mapisa-Nqakula’s alleged corruption first surfaced earlier in the month through a newspaper report, which claimed she was suspected of accepting bribes totaling at least $120,000 from a defense contractor between 2016 and 2019. The alleged payments were purportedly delivered in cash concealed within gift bags, as reported by The Sunday Times.

This unfolding scandal represents the latest in a series of corruption controversies to afflict the ruling African National Congress party, significantly impacting its credibility as the country approaches a crucial national election scheduled for May 29th.