Following the release of a statement denying that Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe is guilty of bribery, following a report in Sunday World which claimed he had admitted to paying journalists R70,000 to make a sex scandal go away, the publication’s editor Makhudu Sefara rejected the minister’s denial, telling News24 that he personally heard Mantashe say he had paid up.
According to Sefara, Mantashe told not only a reporter but him as well that he had given money to two Sunday World journalists.
He added that he believed Mantashe may have been “bluffing” to stop the article from being published. It is unclear then whether the alleged bribery occurred, and Sefara has asked the minister to come forward with the names of the journalists he paid.
He also challenged Mantashe to sue him, expressing confidence that the minister had no case whatsoever.
A statement from Mantashe’s ministry issued late on Monday night denied any bribery, but did not confront whether or not Mantashe had made the claim or why.
“This past weekend, following a Sunday World report, various statements have been made about alleged bribery of journalists by Mr Mantashe, who is also the minister of mineral resources and energy,” said the statement, issued by Moferefere Lekorotsoana, chief of staff in the ministry of mineral resources and energy.
“The statement attributed to him seems to have created an impression of him being involved in the act of bribery. Mr Mantashe is clear that none of the sort occurred.
“Further, attested to by the newspaper, there was no verification of these allegations prior to the publication of the story.
“Mr Mantashe, both in his personal capacity and that of being the executive authority, believes in upholding the integrity of the media; and media freedom,” the statement concludes.
The story Mantashe tried to squash details how the minister, who is married, was a “tiger in bed” who allegedly gave 26-year-old student and aspiring actress Lerato Makgatho payments of R10,000 – R15,000 at a time, and complained when approached for more money that he had already forked out R70,000 in total.
Makgatho in the article describes Mantashe as a “better blesser” than Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who she allegedly also slept with, as well as a “tiger in bed”. The story is accompanied with screenshots from what appear to be WhatsApp messages between her and the two ministers.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.)