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South African parliament speaker takes special leave over corruption inquiry

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula addresses striking miners outside a South African mine in Rustenburg

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's National Assembly speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Thursday that she will take special leave as a result of an investigation into alleged corruption during her time as defence minister.

Investigators raided Mapisa-Nqakula home on Tuesday as part of the corruption inquiry, but did not provide further details on the investigation or the corruption allegations.

Mapisa-Nqakula, who was defence minister from 2012 to 2021, has denied wrongdoing.

"Given the seriousness of the allegations and the attendant extensive media speculation, I have decided to take special leave from my position as Speaker of the National Assembly, effective immediately," Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement.

She said there has been no formal notification of an arrest warrant or communication regarding her imminent arrest, following local media reports that she was expected to hand herself over to police on Friday.

"My lawyers have, however, proactively informed the National Prosecution Authority of my readiness to comply and cooperate should the need arise," she said.

South Africa's state-owned broadcaster SABC reported that Mapisa-Nqakula is suspected of receiving millions of rand in cash as bribes from a former military contractor when she was defence minister.

(Reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; editing by Barbara Lewis)