South African businesswoman hits out over Botswana banking accusations

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By AFP
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Johannesburg. A leading South African businesswoman has hit back at her critics after statements from several South African banks appeared to undermine accusations that she was illicitly funding regime change in Botswana.

Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, chief executive of Mmakau Mining, was suspected of collaborating with former Botswana intelligence agent Welheminah Maswabi — on trial for allegedly syphoning central bank funds into offshore accounts.

Botswana prosecutors alleged Maswabi and Motsepe-Radebe were co-signatories of a South African bank account set up for illicit money flows to effect regime change in Botswana. The southern African country is ranked as one of rare stable democracies on the continent.

But South African banks Nedbank and Absa among others found last week that Motsepe-Radebe was not a signatory of the account.

“It is quite apparent that all of these wild claims about me are part of what has already been exposed as a state-sponsored smear campaign that is being executed by the intelligence operatives of the government of Botswana,” said Motsepe-Radebe in a statement late on Sunday.

She called on the South African and Botswana authorities to investigate the “spurious” accusations.

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Maswabi is facing charges of money-laundering and “terrorism”.

– A high-profile executive –

Motsepe-Radebe is also implicated in another affair stemming from the same case.

She has been accused, with ex-president Ian Khama and a former intelligence chief, of embezzling billions of dollars in public funds since 2018.

Botswana banned her from entering the country visa-free earlier this year after local media accused her of meddling with the country’s politics.

“As I have done with engaging the banks to expose the truth, I will continue fighting to clear my name,” said Motsepe-Radebe, adding that a defamation case against Botswana’s Standard newspaper would begin soon.

The 59-year old businesswoman has a high profile not just because of her own position, but because she is the South African president’s sister-in-law and is married to the country’s former energy minister Jeff Radebe. 

Her brother Patrice Motsepe is a mining tycoon who became the first black African listed on Forbes’ rich list in 2008.

South Africans normally do not require an advance visa to travel to their landlocked neighbour Botswana. 

But a few prominent figures, including firebrand opposition party leader Julius Malema, have been blocked from entering the country without first applying for permission.






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