LISTEN: Thabo Mbeki’s apartheid-era bailout interview with Madonsela

Last May, then-public protector Thuli Madonsela sat down with former president Thabo Mbeki for what would turn out to be a confrontational interview.

They asked each other questions about government’s role back in the late 1990s in deciding what steps to take to recover monies given as illicit gifts to Bankorp (now Absa).

Two weeks ago, the Mail and Guardian exclusively reported that mega-bank Absa could be forced to pay R2.25‑billion to the fiscus for an unlawful apartheid-era bank bailout if the public protector’s preliminary report remains unchanged.

Last week, we reported on Mbeki’s interview with Madonsela. The former president was only one of many prominent figures to be interviewed in the investigation that has spanned five years.

Hear the interview for yourself:

17:00 – 21:30
Mbeki recalls how British intelligence officer Michael Oatley was commissioned to locate and recover the money.

24:20 – 25:10
Madonsela explains what Oatley told her about who might have escaped with the money.

29:20 – 29:40
Madonsela asks Mbeki why government didn’t recover the money.

30:03 -31:30
“Why did government decide not to recover this money?” asks Madonsela. Mbeki answers.

32:45 – 34:25
Madonsela speaks of her interview with Judge Dennis Davis

38:40 – 39:30
Mbeki says he doesn’t remember government having anything to do with bonds.

41:10 – 41:48
Madonsela asks Mbeki who the protector of government bonds is.

46:42 – 47:40
Advocate Marumo Moerane reads out a letter former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni had written to Oatley.

47:55 – 50:40
Madonsela says government didn’t need Oatley anymore and could have decided on its own to recover the funds.

51:30 – 53:40
Mbeki explains how the destabilisation of financial markets was not going to happen.

1:04:04 – 1:06:10
Mbeki says he doesn’t see why Reverend Frank Chikane should be interviewed.

1:13:15 – 1:18:00
Madonsela speaks of her interview with Judge Willem Heath.

1:15:30 – 1:16:30
Moerane says the state should be absolved.

Mbeki replies “the bank, the bank, mani, not government” when Madonsela asks him why the government did not make a decision on recovering the money.

1:25:10 -1:28:00
Mbeki speaks of how former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Mboweni may well explain why steps were not taken to recover the funds.

1:37:45 – 1:41:02
Mbeki explains why advice from advisers is not always taken because it is just advice.

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

Related stories


Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Latest stories

Nine dead: Police descend on lawless ‘Lapland’ at Goudkoppies landfill

The police operation coincided with the discovery of another four bodies near the site on Johannesburg’s Golden Highway on Wednesday morning

St Lucia Lake fisher community say they are not ‘poachers’

KwaNibela residents rely on the fish and reeds they harvest within the protected iSimangaliso Wetland Park. But authorities consider this poaching, threatening the community’s lives and livelihoods.

Seismic surveys on West Coast pose threat to small-scale fishers’...

They are worried about the effect of blasting on the snoek fishery, which is the basis of their income

UK PM Johnson fights back after defection

Wednesday's defection of Conservative Christian Wakeford to Labour served as a reminder of the high stakes at play, with the opposition party surging in opinion polls.

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…