MEC offers cash to City Press reporter
In what appears to be an attempted bribery, Clifford Motsepe, the Limpopo human settlements MEC, on Friday offered City Press reporter Sipho Masondo a “wad of cash”.
Masondo is City Press’ Limpopo correspondent.
Motsepe yesterday vehemently denied offering Masondo any money and questioned the journalist’s integrity. Last night his lawyer demanded that City Press not run the story.
Following a week in which the MEC – also a former SABC board member – had to fend off damaging media reports, Motsepe invited Masondo to his house on Friday morning.
The Star reported that tender documents were allegedly tampered with to award R900 million in housing contracts to companies owned by friends of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. Motsepe and Malema are close friends.
Masondo has penned his version of events in an affidavit signed under oath.
After a meeting that lasted for about 30 minutes, he and Motsepe walked to the front door of the MEC’s house.
“There, Mr Motsepe reached into his pocket and took out a wad of cash, neatly held together with an elastic band. He held it out to me and said something like ‘this is for petrol for the weekend’,” Masondo’s affidavit reads.
“I told him I could not accept the money. I noticed that it was a substantial amount of money.I could see there were R100 and R200 notes. The notes looked crisp and fresh.”
He says the wad of cash was “about an inch thick”.
Masondo says the MEC tried to persuade him to take the cash, saying: “Please take it. If you do not use it for petrol, you can use it for something else.”
Masondo again declined.
Motsepe yesterday denied offering Masondo any cash.
“No, no. I wouldn’t do that. I am professional and I wouldn’t do that.”
According to the MEC, all he said was “should he (Masondo) need any help from us as comrades in the province, he can come to me. Unless he misinterpreted that somehow.”
Motsepe says Masondo initiated the meeting and even directed him to view the “very nice article I had written about your department online” (for the City Press website, following a press briefing Motsepe had on Monday).
Masondo admits calling Motsepe to apologise for leaving his press briefing early, but denies referring to his article as “very nice”.