Interdict blocks law enforcement agencies from arresting speaker

Designer bags, one of which is reportedly worth thousands of rands, expensive weaves and building materials invoices are some of the items reportedly seized at Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s house in Bruma, Johannesburg, during the raid by law enforcement agencies on Tuesday morning.

The raid came after businesswoman Nombasa Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu submitted an explosive affidavit against the embattled speaker of the National Assembly after she was offered a Section 204 to be a state witness.

Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, an executive at Umkhombe Marine, admitted paying bribes and showering the former defence minister with cash and expensive gifts worth more than R5-million between 2017 and 2019.

The law enforcement agencies are probing 10 cash payments amounting to R2.3-million Mapisa-Nqakula allegedly received from Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu. The payment allegedly excludes the designer bags and expensive weaves that were allegedly bought with money from the proceeds of the said bribes.

One of the gifts law enforcement agencies were looking for when they raided Mapisa-Nqakula’s palatial home, is a bear skin, which was bought outside the country and allegedly smuggled in on a state jet.

The search and seizure warrant used to raid Mapisa-Nqakula’s house listed, amongst others, that the law enforcement agencies were looking for a “brown bear skin with claws”. 

Mapisa-Nqakula, in her affidavit, also said that the law enforcement agencies told her the bear skin was “alleged to have been brought into the Republic of South Africa illegally”, but it was not found during the raid.

Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu, in her affidavit, reportedly told the law enforcement agencies that Mapisa-Nqakula used some of the alleged bribes to buy designer bags and expensive weaves while on international trips during her tenure as defence minister.

Mapisa-Nqakula, in her affidavit for the high court interdict, however, indicated that during the search and seizure at her house, the law enforcement officers said that they were looking for two particular handbags, a Ted Baker ladies handbag and a Sarhap bag, which were not found during the raid. 

Mapisa-Nqakula was expected to turn herself in at Lyttleton police station in Pretoria on Friday, but instead, her lawyer, Stephen May, served the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, Police Minister Bheki Cele, and the investigators with a 94-page high court interdict.

In her affidavit to block law enforcement from enforcing her “imminent and unlawful arrest”, Mapisa-Nqakula claims “the ultimate purpose of this application is to protect my constitutional rights, inter alia, freedom and dignity, including my rights to good name and reputation, and self-esteem, as well as to pursue a vocation of my choosing”.

She announced on Thursday that she was going on special leave “as she prepares to defend herself against these allegations and the flagrant tarnishing of her reputation with impunity”.

The 67-year-old speaker also added in court papers that she is “a senior person, and the respondents rushing me into a police cell for reasons other than that I am a flight risk is a threat to my health and life”.

Sunday World understands that Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu submitted her affidavit in November last year and that the initial plan was to arrest her and Mapisa-Nqakula in December.

“Nombasa was supposed to be accused number one and Nosiviwe accused number two, but early this year Ntsondwa-Ndhlovu was offered Section 204 and turned into a state witness,” a source with intimate knowledge of the case said.

The source added that what law enforcement agencies found during the raid at Mapisa-Nqakula’s house was “opulence of the highest order”. “They found a closet full of designer handbags, and one of the bags is apparently worth thousands of rands.”

Two other sources confirmed the designer bags, saying “one of them is worth a fortune”.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, dismissed allegations that the prosecution was put under political pressure by the ruling party not to arrest Mapisa-Nqakula until after the May 29 elections.

“The NPA’s  Investigating Directorate (ID) confirms that a search and seizure operation was carried out at the home of Speaker of Parliament Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula by members of the ID on 19 March 2024, relating to an investigation against her. The NPA’s ID will not be making any further comment on the matter,” Mhaga said.

The speaker had given the law enforcement agencies until April 2 to oppose her high court application to stop her arrest.

“These are delaying tactics to buy time so that the arrest only happens after the elections. As it stands now, her arrest will put a serious dent in the ANC
election campaign,” a source who asked not to be named said.

 May said: “There’s actually no case for my client to answer. The case against her is too weak to justify the steps that they want to take against her. It doesn’t meet the evidential threshold required.

“The state remains to prove us wrong anytime they want to.”

And when he was asked whether some handbags were taken during the raid, he declined to comment.

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