Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

An elite unit of South Africa’s police has raided the Johannesburg home of the speaker of parliament, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, over corruption allegations.

She has been accused of soliciting bribes in return for awarding contracts when she served as defence minister.

“The Speaker steadfastly upholds her strong conviction of innocence,” said a statement from parliament.

The police unit was acting on behalf of state prosecutors who have been carrying out an investigation.

The statement from parliament said that the police “conducted a search and seizure procedure” at Ms Mapisa-Nqakula’s residence, adding that she “welcomed the investigators into her home, co-operating fully” during the five-hour search.

The 67-year-old veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle became speaker in 2021. Before that, she served as defence minister for seven years.

During her time in that post, Ms Mapisa-Nqakula allegedly made several demands for money, amounting to $120,000 (£96,000), from the owner of a company to secure a tender to transport army equipment back to South Africa from elsewhere on the continent, the Business Day newspaper reports.

Cyril Ramaphosa became president in 2018 on a pledge to tackle corruption in the country. His predecessor, Jacob Zuma, was accused of overseeing a huge effort to divert state resources, charges he denies.

Ms Mapisa-Nqakula herself believes that “corruption poses a significant threat to the principles of democracy and good governance”, parliament said.

“Therefore, she is profoundly disturbed by such allegations.”

In a brief statement, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed the search operation, but gave no other details and did not say when or whether any charges would be brought.

By Joy

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