High court rejects Mapisa-Nqakula’s bid to prevent arrest

The Pretoria High Court has dismissed an application by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to halt her potential arrest.

The ruling comes amid accusations that Mapisa-Nqakula accepted bribes amounting to millions of rands, including a wig, during her tenure as minister of defence.

Judge Sulet Potterill stated on Tuesday that the court cannot intervene in preventing an arrest that has not occurred.

“The court cannot declare unlawful an arrest that has not happened,” said Potterill.

Judicial interference

Potterill emphasised that granting such an application would open floodgates for suspects seeking similar interventions to evade arrest.

Furthermore, Potterill highlighted that Mapisa-Nqakula’s right to legal representation does not equate to her lawyer dictating the state’s procedures for processing her through the legal system.

She asserted that statutory authorities must be allowed to carry out their duties without judicial interference.

Despite Mapisa-Nqakula arguing that the urgency of her case was due to potential threats to her dignity and liberty, Potterill said the state had made it clear it would not oppose bail, adding that arrest without detention is not a basis for an urgent application.

Following the court’s decision, Mthunzi Mhaga, the spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), addressed the media but refrained from disclosing the details of the speaker’s potential arrest.

The wheels of justice will be in motion

“We don’t discuss issues of arrest and evidential issues in the media, but obviously the wheels of justice will be in motion,” Mhaga said.

He urged against viewing the case through a politically charged lens and stated that the NPA’s commitment to justice is evidence-based.

Central to the debate at the high court last week was whether Mapisa-Nqakula, facing graft allegations of over R4-million, should receive special treatment to avoid arrest.

Advocate Reginald Willis SC, representing Mapisa-Nqakula, argued vehemently against what he perceived as an unjust targeting of his client, emphasising her rights as a citizen while challenging the lawfulness of a search and seizure conducted without her legal representation present.

“If this is how the speaker of parliament, who is the second most influential individual in our constitutional democracy, is treated, then the rest of us in this courtroom better not get our hopes too high as to our constitutional rights being afforded any legitimacy,” Willis said.

Despite assurances from the state not to arrest Mapisa-Nqakula until the court’s ruling, advocate Graham Kerr-Phillips countered, asserting that the speaker’s urgent interdict was unwarranted and constituted an abuse of process.

Kerr-Phillips contended that Mapisa-Nqakula’s attempts to influence the terms of her prosecution set a dangerous precedent and underscored the need for judicial restraint.

Urgency of interdict disputed

The defence argued that such leaks jeopardised Mapisa-Nqakula’s reputation, while the prosecution maintained that the urgency of accessing case materials before formal charges undermined the justice system’s integrity.

The prosecutor, advocate Makhosi Gwala, disputed the urgency of the interdict, calling it an abuse of process and rejecting a comparison to former president Jacob Zuma’s private prosecution case, stressing the danger of setting a precedent.

Gwala dismisses the need for pre-charge access to dockets and warns against dictating the NPA’s processes.

He denied allegations of information leaks and claimed that media coverage had already harmed Mapisa-Nqakula’s reputation.

“The applicant is trying to frustrate us from performing our statutory function. It’s unheard of that anyone can demand a docket before they are charged,” Gwala said.

“We cannot treat people according to their status, this will collapse the judicial system.” 

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