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Last updated: 03 Apr, 2024 S. African parliament speaker faces possible arrest after losing court bid

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IANS | 03 Apr, 2024
A South African High Court on Tuesday dismissed an urgent application filed by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to interdict a possible arrest of her on corruption charges.

The ruling, which clears the path for her potential arrest, marks a new setback for the African National Congress (ANC) just before the upcoming 2024 elections.

Mapisa-Nqakula approached the Pretoria High Court last week on an urgent basis to prevent the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) from arresting her on corruption charges, Xinhua news agency reported.

She had taken a "special leave" from her parliament position after an early morning raid by a special investigations unit on her Johannesburg home, over allegations that she solicited a cash bribe of about 2.3 million rands (about $120,000) from a former military contractor during her tenure as minister of defense between 2016 and 2019.

In her application, Mapisa-Nqakula argued that the state's case was weak and that arresting her would be "unlawful."

Judge Sulet Potterill, who issued the ruling Tuesday, said if such an order were granted, then the "floodgates" would open and every suspect could seek urgent court appearances to prevent their arrest.

NPA Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga declined to comment on when the speaker might face an imminent arrest following the court ruling.

Mhaga said they had maintained that the court bid was "unprecedented."

"We have maintained that the application was unprecedented and it was unnecessary for us to be in court, and we have always maintained that the process of arrest will be done seamlessly," he said.

Opposition political parties have called for the National Assembly speaker to step down and for the ANC to take action against her following the court ruling.

In response, Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri, the ANC national spokesperson, said the party will enforce its step-aside policy.

"The African National Congress has noted the judgment of the North Gauteng High Court to strike the matter between the NPA and Speaker of the National Assembly, Comrade Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, from the court roll," Bhengu-Motsiri said in a statement. "The ANC is committed to respecting the laws of the country and allowing the justice process to take its course. As such, the ANC will enforce its integrity and step aside policies to preserve the integrity of the movement."

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