Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s secretary has instructed his lawyers to slap three women with a R300,000 damages claim for allegedly spreading “malicious” rumours that he is the premier’s stepson.
Tony Molelekoa, who is responsible for the premier’s appointments, told The Citizen that he had served the trio with letters demanding they prove he is related to the premier, a claim they allegedly made on social media platforms, or retract and remove their allegation.
“They have been spreading the lies about me and I do not even know them from a bar of soap. This cannot go without consequence because it impugns my professional integrity. It raises the issue of nepotism without any basis,” he said.
Molelekoa said he was not the premier’s stepson, and added he was unsure what sparked the rumour because he was not in any way related to Mtsweni-Tsipane.
He is seeking R100,000 in damages from each of the women, whose names are known to The Citizen, and he said the action was not about money.
Molelekoa said he started working for Mtsweni-Tsipane in February 2015 when she was the MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs, asking why the issue wasn’t raised then.
“I do not even know how long it [the allegation] has been on social media because I am not active on that platform. What I can say is that once it came to my attention early last month, I decided to take action because it not only impacts my professional reputation but that of the premier as well,” he said.
He said the letters of demand were served on June 12, giving them 48 hours to comply with the demands or face legal action.
“Their deadline was 14 June and they have not complied with my demands. I have instructed my lawyers to proceed with legal action against them,” he said.
A senior official in provincial government said the rumours were meant to embarrass the premier.
“Whether the rumours are true or not is not important,” the official said.
Mtsweni-Tsipane’s spokesperson, Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni, said the premier would not comment as the matter was now with Molelekoa’s lawyers.