Prosecutors allege South Africa’s Parliament speaker took $135,000 and a wig in bribes

Prosecutors allege South Africa’s Parliament speaker took $135,000 and a wig in bribes

By Associated Press

PRETORIA: South African prosecutors said Monday they intend to charge the Parliament speaker with corruption, alleging she took $135,000 and a wig in bribes over a three-year period while she was defense minister.

Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has not been arrested or charged. The prosecutors spoke at a court hearing over her claims that authorities hadn’t properly informed her of allegations or followed correct procedure.

The judge was expected to rule on a stay of arrest later Monday.

In court papers submitted for the hearing, prosecutors say Mapisa-Nqakula received 11 payments totaling $135,000 between December 2016 and July 2019. She sought another bribe of $105,000 but that wasn’t paid, prosecutors said.

On one occasion in February 2019, Mapisa-Nqakula received more than $15,000 and a wig at a meeting at the country’s main international airport, the papers say.

The person who allegedly paid the bribes was not named.

Prosecutors gave her the opportunity to hand herself in at a police station and be taken to court to be formally charged. They said they would not oppose her bail.

Mapisa-Nqakula has denied wrongdoing and had said she would cooperate with authorities after they searched her home in Johannesburg and seized evidence last week.

She has taken a leave of absence from her role as Parliament speaker. She was previously accused of taking bribes, but a parliamentary investigation was dropped in 2021. The case re-emerged after a whistleblower came forward last year, prosecutors said.

Her case is the latest graft scandal to hit the ruling African National Congress party, which faces a pivotal national election on May 29.