Don’t touch me on my Cuban cigar ...

2013-07-21 14:00

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Then MEC ‘bashes’ businessman with bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold

An unseemly spat over a Cuban cigar ended in Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation Lebogang Maile allegedly hitting a Free State businessman over the head with an expensive bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label whisky.

The scene was a party at the Sandton home of President Jacob Zuma’s former spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, which was also attended by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and then ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Julius Malema.

The fight was so violent Mbalula’s bodyguards had to stop Maile from inflicting any further pain on the bleeding Mzwakhe Mofokeng.

News of the fight – which Maile says took place in late 2011 and which Mofokeng claims occurred last year – only surfaced this week.

In a written response sent to City Press on Friday, Maile, who denies ever assaulting Mofokeng with the 18-year-old premium Scotch, insists the story has emerged because of this week’s public spat between him and Malema.

On Wednesday, Maile convened a press conference at which he berated Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters, calling him a “drunkard and a womaniser” who looted the youth league’s bank account. Malema hit back, saying Maile had six children and was “expecting twins as we speak”.

On Friday, Maile wrote in an email: “Mr Mofokeng should have opened a case of assault against me if I had

hit him with a bottle and not raise the issue almost three years later. I think this is an attempt to intimidate me so that I refrain from engaging with the issues we raised as the ANCYL during the course of the week.

“I am not going to help the forces of darkness to assassinate my character based on unproven allegations.”

The drama started, Mofokeng claims, when he arrived at Kodwa’s house to find Maile and Malema drinking alcohol. He approached Maile, who was surrounded by beautiful women and puffing on a cigar, and asked him if he could share the cigar with him.

Mzwakhe Mofokeng

Maile, he claims, then lost his temper and sneered in Sepedi: “Go thoma neng ke tsobisana le wena? (Since when do I share a cigar with you?).”

“He became so aggressive and said ‘voetsek’ to me. I told him that I did not appreciate the language he was using.”

Mofokeng claimed Maile then stood up and swore at him. “He said ‘voetsek, voetsek’ with his face contorting with anger. I said ‘voetsek nawe (voetsek to you too) – it is not like you are my leader or I’m looking for tenders in Gauteng’.”

He added: “As I was walking back to my car, Lebogang hurled a bottle at me, which hit my head and broke into pieces. The shattered pieces lacerated my neck. My clothes were soaked in blood. I decided to go open a case against him, but Julius stopped me from doing so.”

But in a telephonic interview earlier on Friday, Maile claimed he was only defending himself.

“That man was insulting, fighting and attacking me physically. So what do you do when you are in that situation?” he asked. “You should see that man’s physique and compare it with mine. He is not the kind of a man you can just attack unprovoked.”

Later, in an email, he said he didn’t attack Mofokeng who was “charging” at him. “Fortunately, he was stopped, and certainly I will have defended myself (sic).”

Maile said that, a week later, Mofokeng called him through a friend and asked for a meeting, which was held at the Michelangelo Towers’ Pigalle Restaurant in Sandton. There, he claims, Mofokeng asked him for help to secure housing tenders.

“At the meeting, Mr Mofokeng apologised for disrespecting me, especially because I am a politician ‘in a strategic province’. Since he is a businessman, he would like me to help him secure tenders in the department of housing; he owns a construction company that does work in the Free State, the Northern Cape and sometimes North West. However, Gauteng is difficult to crack,” said Maile.

Mofokeng confirmed they met at the restaurant but insists Maile asked for the meeting. He denies ever asking him for tenders. Mbalula, Kodwa and Malema couldn’t be reached for comment. But two senior ANC officials, who witnessed the incident, confirmed Maile attacked Mofokeng with a full bottle of Johnnie Walker Gold Label.

“If those bodyguards had not intervened, we would be talking something different today,” said one.

“Comrade Lebogang should not have said what he said because you don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house,” said the official.

» Talk to us: Whose version do you believe – Maile's or Mofokeng's?

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