Defence minister considering Mapisa-Nqakula’s request for legal assistance

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Defence minister considering Mapisa-Nqakula's request for legal assistance
Defence minister considering Mapisa-Nqakula's request for legal assistance

Africa-Press – South-Africa. However, Thandi Modise is unhappy with the SANDF’s head of legal service, who went to the state attorney’s office without the authority of the executive.

Defence minister Thandi Modise says she has received a request by her predecessor, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, for the department to assist her with legal representation in her corruption case which she is considering.

However, Modise said on Friday the request “unfortunately” came through the office of the SANDF’s head of legal service Maj-Gen Eric Mnisi, who then actioned the request before seeking counsel from either her or the secretary of defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede. Spokesperson for the ministry Amos Phago said Mnisi actioned Mapisa-Nqakula’s request by approaching the office of the state attorney before first getting approval from Gamede, the department’s s accounting officer. Phago said despite Mnisi’s action, no assistance had been provided to Mapisa-Nqakula.

Modise said Mnisi’s handling of the matter without following existing protocols was tantamount to disrespect of executive authority in the department.

“I have instructed Dr Gamede to look into Gen Mnisi’s handling of the matter from an administrative and process point of view as there are protocols that must be followed for such requests,” Modise said.

Modise said she was applying her mind to the request by Mapisa-Nqakula and would “subject it to the prescripts of the law with the view of protecting public funds”.

Earlier this month, Mapisa-Nqakula was released on R50,000 bail by the Pretoria magistrate’s court. She is facing 12 counts of corruption and one of money laundering. She is accused of receiving more than R2m in kickbacks for a defence contract when she was defence minister.

The presidency confirmed this week it was not paying Mapisa-Nqakula’s legal fees.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s parliamentary counsellor Gerhard Koornhof told Rise Mzansi that neither the president nor the presidency was responsible for any matter relating to her legal costs.

The National Assembly is an independent institution governed by its own rules, said Koornhof.

“As you are aware, there is a separation of powers between the executive and the legislature. Any issue relating to the legal cost of the speaker must therefore be directed to the National Assembly,” he said.

Rise Mzansi’s head of internal democracy, Boitumelo Mpakanyane, wrote to Ramaphosa last month seeking assurances that the government or any other organ of the state would not be paying Mapisa-Nqakula’s legal fees.

“In the spirit of transparency and accountability, it must be placed on record that parliament, and other organs of state, will not foot the legal bills of Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.”

The party sent a similar letter to parliament boss Xolile George. Party spokesperson Mabine Seabe said George was yet to respond to their letter.

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