Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha is a public figure and he should behave.
These were the words of Judge Nelisa Mali last night before dismissing an urgent application by Mathabatha to gag City Press.
Mali agreed that the matter was urgent, but dismissed the application with costs.
The premier had asked the Pretoria High Court to prevent City Press from publishing details of a recorded phone conversation between him and Vhembe District Municipality Mayor Florence Radzilani.
Mathabatha’s advocate, Lindelani Sigogo, told the court that Radzilani “enticed” Mathabatha and he fell for it.
He said the premier was entitled to the same level of privacy and dignity that normal South Africans enjoy.
Sigogo said the recorded phone conversation was obtained unlawfully.
“We are saying this illegality must be stopped,” he said.
Mali disagreed, saying: “I find that the information was obtained lawfully.”
The judge said she considered the fact that freedom of expression outweighs the privacy rights of the premier.
In an affidavit, Mathabatha indicated that the publication of the “illicit” recording would injure his dignity, his standing as a family man and in society, and as a leader in the province.
However, he confirmed for the first time in the affidavit that there was a “private conversation” between him and Radzilani.
“I have never granted Mrs Radzilani or her spouse permission to record me. She lured me into communication regarding sensitive matters that have the potential of humiliating and embarrassing me when placed in the public domain.
“I can confirm that a private communication via telephone transpired between me and Mrs Radzilani.
“Mrs Radzilani had initiated a telephone contact with me that day by calling me on my cellular phone. [She] introduced the topic of my feelings in that communication. I was under the reasonable impression that the conversation between myself and Mrs Radzilani would not be publicised in any manner with a view to embarrass me or injure me [and] my dignity,” Mathabatha said in the affidavit.
The premier said the release of the audio comes right at the cusp of the election process of provincial government leadership within the ANC, and right at the point when Radzilani’s credibility took a heavy blow following the release of the explosive report about the looting of funds at VBS Mutual Bank.
Radzilani has been mentioned as one of the individuals who personally benefited from VBS funds.
“The illicit recording is being used for political manoeuvring and a smear campaign against me by pastor [Stanley Radzilani, the mayor’s husband]. There is an apparent jostling for positions in preparation for [next year’s] elections. The motive of humiliating and disparaging my dignity is to render me persona non grata in the build-up to this conference and during this conference. Therefore the harm that I suffer is not only at present, but also relates to the possibility of my good name being tarnished during the conference. The distribution and dissemination of the illicit recording must have intended this.”
The impasse between Mathabatha and Radzilani deepened yesterday when Radzilani in her answering affidavit accused Mathabatha of “grabbing” her and telling her that she has all the “ingredients he wants from a woman”.
“I confirm that the applicant sent me an SMS on March 8 to inform me that he [would] call me when [was] is done with a meeting. I was surprised when I arrived in his hotel room. After closing the door he grabbed me and he said the two of us were in love.
“He said that my body has all the ingredients he wants from a woman. I pleaded with him not to do that to me and he said I’m behaving like an old-fashioned lady.”
In the affidavit, Radzilani said she then requested Mathabatha to give her time to think about it.
“I promised to call him the following day.”
When she arrived at the hotel she related the story to her husband, who advised her to record the conversation with Mathabatha for evidence.
Radzilani’s attorney, Shonisani Ravele, told the court that she did not have another meeting with Mathabatha.
Mathabatha’s alleged attempt to extend an olive branch to Radzilani’s husband for trying to cuckold him was rejected on Monday night.
City Press has it on good authority that a sheepish Mathabatha pleaded with ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza to apologise to the pastor on his behalf.
Msiza allegedly phoned the pastor on Monday night and asked him to forgive Mathabatha for his alleged failed attempt to have an adulterous affair with his wife, but the man of God rejected the apology.
He allegedly told Msiza to tell Mathabatha to man up and apologise to him face-to-face.
Msiza’s apology was rejected a few hours after Mathabatha allegedly apologised to Radzilani in a meeting that was convened by Thoko Didiza, the ANC national executive committee’s Limpopo deployee, at Luthuli House.
Limpopo ANC officials were at the ANC headquarters to meet the party’s top six to discuss the alleged implication of Msiza and Radzilani in the theft of VBS funds.
After the meeting, Didiza allegedly convened a meeting between Mathabatha and Radzilani, where the premier apologised for his indiscretion.
Didiza confirmed that the meeting took place.
The pastor told City Press this week that he was not happy that Mathabatha had not apologised to him.
“He needs to reach out to me and own up to his mistakes. He has been told that she is married. My God will be the judge in this case.”
Radzilani had told her husband that Mathabatha also asked for forgiveness during a meeting at Luthuli House.
“She told me it was the premier who asked for forgiveness during a separate meeting at Luthuli House,” he said.
But Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, denied that the premier had apologised for declaring love to Radzilani.
“I’m told it is a rumour. It never happened. What is the crime if the premier proposed love?” Mathivha asked.
An audio clip of Mathabatha was played to the congregants of pastor Stanley’s Spirit Ambassadors’ International Ministries in Tshirenzheni village near Thohoyandou, Limpopo, last Sunday.
In the recording, Mathabatha is heard professing his undying love for Radzilani.
“I was just trying to suppress, suppress, and I realised we can’t live like this,” Mathabatha says.
Radzilani then tells Mathabatha that she has always respected him as a family man.
“I am sure you are aware that I am also married to a pastor,” she says.
In response, Mathabatha asks: “To a pastor? I was not aware.”
Mathabatha is heard bursting into laughter. She then asks him if he really loves her.
“It is difficult [for] me chairperson,” she tells him.
The conversation gets exciting when Mathabatha tells Radzilani that their affair would strengthen their families: “What I think we need to do is to ensure that this affair strengthens both families ... I think it will be better if we talk...” Mathabatha says in the clip.
The pastor has detailed how Mathabatha allegedly gave his wife a passionate hug at the Michelangelo Towers hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, earlier this year.
In an attack on Mathabatha, he describes him as an “unethical” and “disrespectful” leader who uses his seniority to satisfy his lust.
“He wanted to sleep with my wife that day. When he heard that my wife is married to a pastor he laughed. He learnt that my wife was going to a Salga [SA Local Government Association] summit in Cape Town. He called her and said they must meet to discuss work-related issues. When my wife told me, I told her that I do not see the premier discussing work-related issues with her,” Stanley said.