A screen grab of a Facebook post by DA MMC for sport and recreation Ntsiki Mokhotho has triggered outrage and has been shared widely on whatsapp showing the councillor appearing to be emerging from a multi-million rand sports car, with another one parked next to it in a private garage. While Mokhoto denied the cars were hers, the ANC in Tshwane has condemned the post and “the public display of wealth and the promotion of crass materialism and ostentatious spending”.
Weekly Xposé has ascertained that the photos are legitimate after speaking with Mokhoto, ruling out any ill-intentioned Photoshop antics, such as what happened with the MiWay racist email scandal.
The DA in Tshwane has recently made headlines about the sale of what it calls the “mayoral mansion”, a house that was previously used for the city’s mayor. The sale of the property was announced by Mayor Solly Msimanga when he delivered the 2017 State of the Capital address. Shortly after being instilled as mayor last year, Msimanga also famously refused to take an order of 10 BMWs that were ordered by the previous regime. These two actions are clearly aimed at positioning the DA against opulence in a country with massive inequality.
In recent times Tshwane has faced protests and violence in poor communities such as Atteridgeville, where frustrations of the poor have poured over into the public space.
On 9 July, 2017, MMC Mokhotho, just three days before busses were torched in an Atteridgeville protest, posted on Facebook:
A search of the vehicles in the post reveals that the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG and the Lamborgini Gallardo Spyder are very expensive sports cars, obviously only afforded by the most wealthy in any society.
The two cars are valued between R1,8-million and up to R2,8-million each. The source who alerted Weekly Xposé to the Facebook post and the subsequent sharing on whatsapp, and who chooses to remain anonymous, suggested the MMC was posting about her personal life. Weekly Xposé then contacted Makhoto with a series of questions.
Makhotho confirmed to Weekly Xposé via email that the photos were in fact real, and that it was her in the photos, but she said the cars did not belong to her, and that she is not wealthy. She did not offer an explanation of who the cars belonged to, as the photo is clearly inside a private garage, but said she was merely admiring the cars. “Yes, it is me. No, I do not own the cars, I admired them. I am not living a lavish lifestyle. My children were excited by what they saw and they posted this on Facebook. They took photos of me while admiring cars. I am not rich.”
Numerous ANC members in Tshwane, who chose not to comment publicly, expressed outrage to Weekly Xposé, referring the matter to ANC in Tshwane caucus spokesperson Lesego Makhubela for official comment.
Makhubela was unequivocal in the ANC’s condemnation of the post. “The ANC wishes to condemn the public display of wealth and the promotion of crass materialism and ostentatious spending particularly by public servants, councillors and MMCss.
“We understand that the cabinet of DAEFF-led administration, from a speaker who travels first class, to MMCs that own big expensive cars have a passion for finer things in life but we wish that they should be considerate to the sea of conditions of squalor and poverty our people find themselves in. There was no justifiable reason why the MMC posted such pictures on her Facebook.”
When asked if he suspected the cars belonged to Makhoto, Makhubela said: “The cars are at her home in the lofty surbubs of Tshwane.”
Questions sent to Makhotho:
- Is the photo real? If not, why did you post it on Facebook?
- Is the person standing at the SLS AMG you?
- Do you own the SLS AMG and Lamborghini?
- Are you able to live this lifestyle as a Democratic Alliance councillor?
- Do you think it is in good taste to post “Family day with my kids and Thabiso Mathibedi” on the 9th July, considering the poverty in the City of Tshwane in particular and South Africa in general? Is it rubbing wealth in the faces of the poor?
- Does the lavish lifestyle and living the high life amidst poverty fit into the DA’s vision for the City of Tshwane?
Answers from Makhoto:
- Yes the photo is real.
- Yes is me.
- No, I don’t own the cars. I admired them.
- No, I am not living a lavish lifestyle.
- My children were excited but what they saw and they posted this on Facebook. They took photos of me while admiring the cars.
- I am not rich.