Mantashe reportedly admits paying journalists R70k to make blesser story go away

Image credit: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantasha has reportedly admitted to paying two journalists a total of R70,000 to make a “blesser” story go away.

Sunday World published Mantashe’s comments on Sunday in which he made the admission.

He was quoted saying, “Two journalists from your publication called me for the same story. So, you are the third person to call me for the same story. Do you also want money? I paid them and now you are calling about the same story.”

Mantashe added, “I begged them not to write the story. I paid two journalists at your publication. I will not reveal their names. You can ask amongst your colleagues and ask Lerato to tell you their names.”

Alleged ‘blesser’ affairs

The tabloid reported that Mantashe, 64, had allegedly been in a “blesser” relationship with a 26-year-old woman named Lerato Makgatho.

It further reported that Makgatho had also allegedly been in a similar relationship with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, 60.

Makgatho provided Sunday World with screenshots of her WhatsApp conversations with the two ministers.

The Pretoria-based “slay queen” said she did this to “free herself” and to stop future attempts at extorting the ministers.

She said Mantashe gave her between R10,000 and R15,000 while Mboweni gave her R3,000 “once in a long time.” Unlike Mantashe, Mboweni did not comment on the matter.

Previous controversies

This isn’t the first time Mantashe has had to deal with claims of being in a “blesser” relationship with a younger woman.

In December 2017, Weekly Xposé, an online tabloid, published similar WhatsApp chats between him and another woman, who was 23 at the time.

However, Mantashe dismissed the story as “a deflection” that was part of factional battles in the African National Congress (ANC) in the run-up to its 54th national conference.

Earlier this month, Mboweni reacted to a similar story in the Sunday World by admitting to sending a young woman R3,000.

In a Facebook post, the minister said he was only helping “a desperate student.”

He said regretted doing so after an alleged extortion attempt allegedly involving the same woman and a businessman named Thulani Majola.

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