South African mining boss Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, who has been implicated in a multibillion-rand money laundering case in Botswana, says she is hurt each time the names of her relatives – President Cyril Ramaphosa and Patrice Motsepe – are mentioned whenever the case comes up.
Motsepe-Radebe, wife of former Cabinet minister and now presidential envoy Jeff Radebe, said this was not only about Ramaphosa, who is married to her sister, Tshepo, and her mining mogul brother Patrice, but her entire family and its legacy.
“It hurts me when my family name is dragged into this mess. They are always bringing up my brother [Patrice] and who my sister is married to [Ramaphosa].
"I am an individual and have made myself a name as a businessperson, especially in the mining sector. We have children and you can only imagine what this is doing to them and the family legacy,” she said on Friday.
“I found myself shedding a tear during a [recent] television interview when I was asked about what this whole thing was doing to my family. When you touch my family you touch my heart and that is the only time I’d cry.”
Motsepe-Radebe has again challenged the Botswana government to “produce evidence that such a large amount of money left the country in the first place and how and if the Reserve Bank of Botswana has no records of that”.
Late last year, she was named as a co-signatory in two South African bank accounts holding more than $10 billion (R170 billion) allegedly stolen from the Botswana government.
This allegation was made during the bail application of former spy, Wilhelmina “Butterfly” Maswabi, who is alleged to be the one holding the strings of the loot.
These allegations were detailed in an affidavit by the Botswana Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime investigating officer, Jako Hubona, in his opposition to Maswabi’s bail application.
Motsepe-Radebe later accused Hubona of lying under oath.
She produced letters she said were obtained from the two banks allegedly holding some of the loot – Nedbank and Absa – which wrote that according to their records the accounts did not exist.
It remains to be seen if the prosecutors in Botswana will get a different response from the banks in their bid to get the South African government to act on their request for mutual legal assistance to get crucial evidence.
Botswana’s Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Stephen Tiroyakgosi announced this week that they had sought the assistance of AfriForum’s private prosecution team led by Advocate Gerrie Nel to get the department of international relations and cooperation to respond to its request made last September.
At a media briefing this week, Nel explained that AfriForum had been requested to “assist a foreign law enforcement agency to obtain legal evidence needed to prove a criminal matter in the country”.
Giving details of the case, Nel said: “Money originating from the Bank of Botswana was illegally laundered through various international accounts and pertinent to this particular account, $48 billion found its way to bank accounts in South Africa.
“An investigation in Botswana focuses on how and how much money found its way back into Botswana and for what purpose,” he said.
Nel said attempts by the prosecutors in Botswana to get the evidence from the South African banks, through court orders in that country, drew a blank.
The financial institutions told them that they were “not bound by the particular court jurisdiction”.
He also explained why Motsepe-Radebe’s name was the only one mentioned in the Botswana money laundering case, which has become known in the neighbouring country as the “Butterfly case”.
“I don’t think it is a secret that she [Motsepe-Radebe] is not the only person [implicated in the case] but that particular name is well known,” he said.
Motsepe-Radebe was not impressed with the Botswana government enlisting the legal assistance of AfriForum.
“Why AfriForum? Why can’t the Botswana government go to the Southern African Development Community or other relevant committees of the African Union … What is the government of Botswana trying to do?”
“Why are they creating an unnecessary racial tension? They have many other options and there is Interpol which they can also approach for assistance with the investigation,” she said.
Motsepe-Radebe said she was determined to clear her name.
“I never got tired of fighting apartheid and I will never get tired of fighting this one [case] as well. I am being provoked unnecessarily,” she said.
“I am here waiting for someone to engage me on the crime I am being implicated in. I am yet to hear from the Botswana law enforcement or prosecution and I am ready to cooperate.”
She added that she would “welcome the South African government assisting the Botswana government with its request for mutual legal assistance … These allegations are harmful to my reputation and to all the other citizens that have been referenced in the affidavit.”
Meanwhile, in a move to prove her innocence Motsepe-Radebe announced this week that she had appointed London-based international law firm Omnia Strategy LLP and a leading international intelligence company, Alaco Limited also based in the UK, to conduct an independent investigation into all the allegations in the case she is implicated in.
She also threatened to take legal action against her accusers.
“I am in consultations with my lawyers and intend to sue all the parties who have publicly made false accusations against me in the Hubona affidavit,” she said.