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SA billionaire sues Botswana paper for R6.7m

by Citizen
07 Jun 2019 at 19:53hrs | Views
The newspaper that published an article accusing Bridgette Radebe of interfering in Botswana politics and claimed that her brother Patrice Motsepe smuggled R22 million to influence succession politics in the country is being sued by Motsepe for five million Pula (R6.7m) in damages for injury to his reputation.

In addition, he is demanding that the newspaper publish, within five days from date of the court order, an apology on its website and front page that must take up a quarter of the page and remain published for seven calendar days. Motsepe also wants the publication to pay costs.

According to The Star, in the April 1 article titled "New Jerusalem Vic Falls secret meeting scuttled," the Sunday Standard claimed the Mamelodi Sundowns owner and his sister, businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, donated R22m to Dr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi's campaign ahead of the ruling Botswana Democratic Party's elective conference held last month.

Venson-Moitoi was facing up against President Mokgweetsi Masisi for the role of leader in the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP).

As former vice-president, Masisi took over as president from Ian Khama after Khama's 10-year presidential term came to an end a year ago, but Khama has openly stated his support for Venson-Moitoi.

Venson-Moitoi shared her intention to face off against Masisi for BDP leadership in a tweet she posted last December, however, it was Masisi who emerged victorious after he was elected unopposed during a BDP special congress in Kang in the Kgalagadi District on April 5.

According to the initial Sunday Standard report, Radebe, together with Zimbabwean MP Samson Guma Moyo and Botswana-based Prevailing Securities MD Shadrack Baaitse, was supposed to meet with Khama and a delegation at Vic Falls on the north-western border of Zimbabwe and not far from the Botswana border last Saturday.

"They were allegedly supposed to hand him $5.5 million (almost R80 million) in cash that he was supposed to smuggle into Botswana to fund Venson-Moitoi's campaign," reported Daily Maverick.

Radebe and her companions were later allegedly detained and interrogated by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation, who intercepted the transaction following a tip-off.

In a statement issued by her representation, Radebe slammed the report and stated "there is no truth in the allegations in recent media articles that suggest Ms Bridgette Motsepe Radebe was the chief financier of Botswana political party candidate Ms Venson-Moitoi and that a plan to smuggle P60million ($5.5m) into Botswana was scuppered".

It has been confirmed that she, along with a number of colleagues, flew to Zimbabwe but the purpose of the trip was to attend a reunion lunch with former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, and former president Ian Khama.

"Ambassador Young, who is a world-renowned civil rights leader and a father figure to Ms Radebe, was staying at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe along with a delegation of 56 American leaders. They were there as part of a tour to visit a number of southern African countries," read part of the statement.

According to court papers, which have been seen by The Star, Motsepe is of the view that the statement is defamatory and could imply that he acts illegally and is a dishonest businessman.

"As a result of the publication of the offending statement, the plaintiff has been injured in his reputation and has suffered damages in the amount of P5,000,000. In the premise, the defendant is liable to the plaintiff in the amount of P5,000,000," reads the court papers.

The defamation charges against the paper were confirmed to The Star by Motsepe's spokesperson, Sizwe Nzimande, who could not comment further on the matter citing the reason that the matter is currently sub judice.

The Sunday Standard's editor, Outsa Mokone, claimed they had not yet received the lawsuit.

Mokone did, however, state that his publication had received more information about the matter and promised a follow-up article this coming weekend that would allegedly implicate Motsepe in the domestic affairs of Botswana.

Source - Citizen

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