An affidavit written by the former husband of Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa details why he laid a criminal complaint of assault against her and a man he believed she was having an affair with – political commentator Professor Sipho Seepe.
Richard Molewa (63) alleges in his affidavit – a copy of which City Press has obtained – that Seepe tried to assault him in the kitchen of his wife’s double-storey ministerial residence in Waterkloof, Pretoria.
While Seepe was allegedly chasing Richard around the kitchen table, the affidavit reads, his wife looked on through the hatch in the dining room and “asked [Seepe] to get a knife from a kitchen drawer”.
“I harbour a grave concern over my personal safety,” wrote Richard at the end of his statement, which accompanied the case he laid at Pretoria’s Brooklyn Police Station, and which was also sent to one of her four children and one of his two children.
A furious Edna (60) told City Press this week that she did not discuss her “personal matters, good or bad, with the public and in public”.
She released a statement on Sunday, saying:
Seepe (58) declined to comment on allegations that he had an affair with the minister.
"The friendship was not innocent”
In his affidavit, Richard, a professional photographer, writes that, although the alleged assault took place in December 2015, the drama began in 2012.
“Me and my wife, Mrs Edna Molewa, minister of environmental affairs and member of the ANC national executive committee, are in the throes of matrimonial strife,” he begins.
“At the nub of the problem is an allegation that my wife is having an extramarital affair with Professor Sipho Seepe, an adviser to the minister of human settlements [Lindiwe Sisulu].”
Richard goes on to state that he received an anonymous call informing him of the alleged affair, but, “at the time, I honestly didn’t believe my informant”, adding that he told his wife about it.
She, he writes, denied it, saying she and Seepe had a “professional relationship”.
He writes that, later in 2015, “I got a similar allegation, but this time the informant showed a face and went to considerable lengths in substantiating claims made, citing other people who know, and specifically what they know. I embarked on an endeavour to verify the information. The welter of circumstantial evidence confirmed what I was told.”
He writes that he sent a few WhatsApp messages to Seepe: “The first thereof merely stated what I heard. He never responded to this message.”
He then became angry and sent Seepe a furious message, saying: “Some of your friends refer to you as ’n hond wat elke lelike wond lek [a dog that licks every ugly wound].”
He writes that this “over-the-top” statement was “motivated by my anger over him coming to my home for years as a friend to my wife, when, in the fullness of time, the friendship was not innocent”.
Then, on December 20 2015, Richard writes, he returned home to the ministerial residence in the early afternoon to find a strange car in the driveway.
“I could hear my wife’s and a male voice in the sitting room ... I went to the kitchen and started to prepare fruit salad with a small knife into a bowl [sic]. Suddenly, a man, Professor Sipho Seepe, charged into the kitchen and wanted to attack me.
“With the knife still in my hand, I ran around the kitchen table to avoid him getting at me, circling one way and another, several times. This happened over some 20 minutes.
“Judging by his facial expressions, the tone of his voice and his eagerness to get to me, he meant to harm me. Sipho Seepe then called my wife and she came. She did not come into the kitchen, but instead went into the dining room and looked on through the hatch.
“She seemed to want me to be assaulted and seemed to put herself where, if I were attacked, she would ostensibly be too far to intervene.”
Richard writes that he “kept my distance from” Seepe and decided to only use the knife in his hand when he was cornered. He also claims that Seepe told Edna four times that he was leaving, only to take a few steps out of the kitchen and rush back in each time.
“On his final return, my wife asked him to get a knife from a kitchen drawer,” Richard writes, adding that, although Seepe looked in the drawer, he did not get a knife.
He adds: “I believe that she wanted this man Seepe to take a knife and stab me as there was no reason to draw his attention to a knife.”
"A difficult time"
A close confidante of Richard’s told City Press this week that, soon after that incident, he left the ministerial residence and moved to their family home in Hartbeespoort, North West.
“That was the last time he saw the minister and they have not spoken to each other for over a year. It has been a difficult time for Richard,” the friend said.
Richard confirmed that he had left the house two years ago, but declined to elaborate further.
This week, he said he reported the matter to the police in case anything happened to him, or in case his wife and Seepe laid any counterclaims against him.
However, hours after he laid the complaint, he claimed he was approached by a senior police officer, a major general, who told him he could not lay a charge against a minister and that the officer’s “mandate” was to make it go away.
City Press obtained the case number, but the case appears to have vanished from the police’s case management system. Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubela said: “I cannot find the case number in our system. There is nothing.”
On Friday, the senior policeman said the allegation was “utter rubbish”. He confirmed that Richard had opened a case, but insisted he later withdrew the charge, saying Richard “was given proper feedback and he was happy with it. He then wrote a second statement of withdrawal. I cannot comment further on family problems.”
This week, Richard denied dropping the charges and insisted he knew nothing about a second statement. “I still wanted to decompress and reflect on the matter. The police officer reminded me that, in terms of criminal procedure, once a case is reported, the next steps must be taken.”
He said: “It should also be remembered that, at the time this incident happened, the high-profile Oscar Pistorius case was going on in court [in which the former athlete stood trial for the murder of his girlfriend], and I had to think carefully about whether I wanted to catapult myself into that kind of media attention and possible trial.
“The Pistorius trial had a direct influence on how I exercised self-restraint with the knife I had and the other options I could have resorted to on that sad day.”
Seepe denied wanting to harm Richard, saying he approached him at the ministerial residence to tell him that he was aware that Richard was “spreading rumours” about him having an affair with his wife.
“I asked him why he did not approach me in person and hear from me whether I deny or confirm the rumour,” Seepe said.
Seepe said Richard withdrew the charges, adding: “I did not assault the man. How do you threaten someone with a knife when you don’t have one?”