She’s practically royal: SA’s (only) first lady Dr Tshepo Motsepe

Dr Tshepo Motsepe. Picture: Rebecca Hearfield
Dr Tshepo Motsepe. Picture: Rebecca Hearfield

Cyril Ramaphosa was on Thursday sworn in as the fifth democratic president of South Africa and the media’s attention immediately shifted to the little-known first family, particularly towards new first lady, Dr Tshepo Motsepe.

Maybe the euphoria around the new first lady is because for the first time in nine years South Africa has only one first lady. There will be no more mix-ups in trying to remember who’s who among the first ladies, a predicament that was all too real for South African citizens under former president Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

Practically royalty

The curiosity surrounding the first lady may also be due to her surname, Motsepe. She comes from a family of prominent individuals.

Dr Motsepe is actually the older sister of businessman, mining magnate and owner of football club Mamelodi Sundowns Patrice Motsepe. Her sister, Bridgette Radebe, is a prominent businesswoman, and is married to Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe.

Born in Soweto, Dr Motsepe is a qualified medical doctor, with a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Master of Public Health in maternal child health and aging from the Harvard School of Public Health. She also has a host of other qualifications in business and entrepreneurship.

Philanthropic work

She is a patron of the South African Civil Society for Women’s, Adolescents’ and Children’s Health, a former board member at the Vaal Reefs Disaster Trust, and has also served on the board of the Kids Haven Foundation.

In 2014, City Press reported that Dr Motsepe became the benefactor of Kgothatso Molefe, a then Grade 8 pupil at Roedean High School in Parktown Johannesburg. This happened on Molefe’s first day at the school. She was offered a lift by a classmate’s mother who later turned out to be Cyril Ramaphosa’s wife.When she heard that Molefe was a domestic worker’s daughter, Dr Motsepe became Molefe’s benefactor.

Read: Help from Dr Tshepo Motsepe

Dr Motsepe is not one for the spotlight it seems however, she was involuntarily thrown into the public eye last September when the deputy president Ramaphosa was accused of having a string of affairs. The president admitted he cheated on the now first lady eight years ago.

Information on the elusive first lady is hardly readily available. She and Ramaphosa have anything between two and four children together – depending on which publication you believe.

Ramaphosa was also previously married to businesswoman, Nomazizi Mtshotshisa, with whom he had one child. The couple divorced, and Mtshotshisa, who chaired both and Telkom’s board, died in 2006.

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