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No Arrest Imminent for Embattled SA Parliament Speaker Until April 2

South Africa’s troubled National Assembly speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is a free woman — at least until next Tuesday, when she might be arrested on charges of corruption and bribery. In response to the speaker’s appeal to interdict her arrest, judgment was delayed until April 2.

South African state prosecutors announced on Monday that they seek to charge the parliament speaker with corruption, alleging that she accepted $135,000 and a wig in bribes over a three-year period while serving as defense minister. Mapisa-Nqakula denied any misconduct.

“Although the constitutional right to freedom of movement and the right to dignity do not require the respondents, if they decide to arrest the applicant under section 40, i.e. a warrant, to consider whether there are less invasive methods to bring the applicant before court than arresting her and thus infringing on her constitutional rights. “The discretion to arrest the applicant must be exercised in good faith, rationally, and not arbitrarily,” said Reginald Willis, lawyer for Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Her case is the latest graft scandal to hit the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which is holding a crucial national election on May 29.

Prosecutors allege Mapisa-Nqakula received 11 payments totaling $135,000 between December 2016 and July 2019.She requested another bribe of $105,000, but it was not paid, according to investigators.

“We respectfully request that Your Ladyship dismiss this application due to a lack of urgency, disobedience with the practice instruction, and, most importantly, a failure to demonstrate that they would not suffer irreparable harm. And if Her Ladyship agrees, we argue that the sum should include the expense of two counsels,” Makhosi Gwala, the state lawyer, said.

Mapisa-Nqakula has taken a leave from her position as parliament speaker.

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