The black entrepreneurs who dared to join the mining industry in South Africa were not many in the days of apartheid and colonial imperialism, but a lot of them were men. However, there is one tough cookie who can definitely hold her own next to the boys in the mining and solid minerals industry. Bridgette Radebe stepped up to become the foremost female black mining entrepreneur. Radebe, who was born into a family of activists, had her dreams of studying law at Wits University and qualify as a mines lawyer thwarted by the imperial masters. However, this setback did not deter the mining guru from achieving her goals of joining the mining field through whichever way possible.
Besides, we would not be far from the truth to say that the South African businesswoman had a head start in the field, given the type of family she comes from. Though her dad was a school teacher, he resigned to open a Spaza shop which later gained popularity among the black mineworkers. This shop, according to reports was quite significant during Bridgette Radebe’s formative years as it exposed her to the basic principles of business. Besides, it was thanks to the shop that she got first-hand exposure to all things mining. Her brother Patrice Motsepe also benefited from the same exposure as he went ahead to become one of the biggest mining moguls in South Africa, thus, we can say that the mining business runs in their blood.
Tracing Bridgette Radebe’s Background In A Family Of Activists
Bridgette Radebe was born at the peak of the apartheid era in South Africa on the 26th of February 1960. Her ethnicity is listed as Tswana and her family is an entrepreneurial one, struggling to make headway at a period when blacks were prohibited from owning mining rights and holding mining licenses. Her father Kgosi Augustine Motsepe was a teacher turned small-scale businessman and her mother’s identity is not known. Though her parents never made it to the limelight, Bridgette’s siblings are all popular individuals in South Africa. Her brother is none other than the mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe and her sister is Tshepo Ramaphosa, nee Motsepe, SA’s current first lady and wife of president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Seeing her parents fight for the rights of South Africans engendered in Bridgette, an economic activism spirit. She was barely 10 in 1970 when she matched with her clan to the mines, to seek justice after they were robbed of their rightful royalty payments by the leasing Canadian company. As expected, Bridgette Radebe and her clan were not just met with police brutality; they equally set the dogs on them.
Her Dreams Of Becoming A Legal Practitioner Was Thwarted For Being Black
The awful experience at the mines made the young Bridgette swear to study law and qualify as a mines lawyer. However, things did not go as planned; just for being black, her dreams of studying law were thwarted. Even though she met the academic requirements, it was completely impossible for her to be admitted into the law department of Wits University. Rather, she had no choice than to join the university for Bantu speaker, University of the North.
Bridgette’s days at the University of the North were short-lived as she quickly pitched her tent with striking Bantu speakers and together, they fought against the ravaging apartheid which caused a lot of troubles for them, leading to their expulsion from the school within a short time. This put paid to her dreams of studying law and specialize in the mines field of the profession.
She later moved to the neighboring country Botswana where she joined the University of Botswana, studying for a period of four years from 1973 to 1977. Perhaps that was the beginning of her connection to Botswana that has caused a lot of controversies in the SA native’s life.
Against All Odds, Bridgette Radebe Forged A Successful Career In The South African Mining Industry
Even though her dreams to become a lawyer were shattered, it didn’t douse Bridgette Radebe’s light one bit. The South African activist defied legislation, going against all odds to make a foray into the mining industry to become the foremost black mining entrepreneur. However, Bridgette just had to start from scratch and pay her dues as she climbed up the ladder of success.
Radebe started on a very small scale during the 1980s, working as a contract miner; she was just in her twenties at the time. Her company then majored in the production of minerals and managing shafts for the big names in the then mining industry. This way, the future mining tycoon was able to acquire the needed skills for developing her own business.
Acquiring Her Own Mine Led To The Birth of Mmakau Mining Company
For Bridgette Radebe, daring to venture into the South African mining field was on its own a record-breaking point but the mother of three was determined to achieve more milestones in the industry. From servicing the big names, she dexterously made moves to acquire her own mine which gave birth to the company we know today as Mmakau Mining (pty) Limited.
Mmakau is among the pioneering mining companies in South Africa owned by a native. They have interests in natural resources such as gold, platinum, uranium, ferrochrome, coal, and exploration asset. It is equally among the major players in Shaft Sinkers, focusing on shaft sinking, its development, as well as mining construction worldwide. The company which started in 1986 is now considered to be among the top mining companies in the black continent of Africa.
The major aim for establishing Mmakau was to contribute expertise/proficiency with a business philosophy/viewpoint of sustainable wealth creation via targeted procurement, skills enhancement, entrepreneurial and socio-economic development.
Also, Bridgette Radebe’s mining company is renowned for its ethical/principled business approach of always trying to strike a balance between profits, investors, shareholder value, and the sustainable mining communities within the country.
Her Position as the Head Of South African Mining Development Association
Being the head of the South African Mining Development Association (SAMDA) is far from easy but trust a tough cookie like Bridgette Radebe to make it appear so. Since she ascended the mantle of leadership, the mining tycoon has been championing reliable mining ventures; she made this possible by undertaking community-driven input. Mmakau as a company focuses on entrepreneur development and managed empowerment partnering. Thanks to this, participating communities are sure of equity and we are yet to factor in the sustainable wealth creation measures fostered via public-private partnership policies and models.
These communities now enjoy robust business, as well as visible infrastructural developments. Apart from poverty alleviation which is the major focus of the Radebe-led administration, the participating communities are wearing a new look, and what’s more, the dignity of its indigenous people has been extensively restored.
Bridgette Radebe Holds Other Prestigious Positions in The Mining Field
Apart from leading the South African Mining Development Association, Bridgette holds other top posts in the industry. For one, she is the founder and a member of the Board of Trustees of what is referred to as the New Africa Mining Fund. The main aim of creating this fund is to extend helping hands to upcoming mining companies experiencing issues with their finances, including other pertinent industry skills. Formerly, she was part of the executives of the SA Minerals and Mining Development Board as its substantial Vice-Chairman (the mandate of the board is to function as an advisory body to the country’s Minister of Minerals and Energy.
While wielding the big stick at SAMDA, Bridgette Radebe became a major driving force in matters concerning the design and lobbying of the SA Minerals and Petroleum Development Bill, the Empowerment Mining Charter, and the Royalty Bill. To achieve their aim, they need to create a partnership with entities like Labor Unions, Minister of Minerals and Energy, the Chamber of Mines, including any other relevant stakeholders.
She Has Equally Held Leadership Roles Away From The Mining and Solid Minerals Sector
Bridgette Radebe is equally a big player outside the mining sector. In fact, the shrewd businesswoman also has an interest in football. During the mid-80s, the National Soccer League of South Africa named her as Head of Public Affairs. During her tenure, she made great and sustainable contributions to the development and progression of soccer in South Africa.
The International Women’s Forum South Africa has Radebe as its founder and first chairperson. Forbes Magazine nominated her among the 20 Most Powerful Women in Africa. Fortune Most 200 Powerful Women Conferences enjoys her presence as one of their regular presenters. Sappi Limited – the global biggest pulp and paper company has the mining tycoon as a board member. In 2019, the businesswoman joined the BRICS Business Council as a member.
All her wise business ventures placed the mining tycoon among the crème de la crème of the South African society and the black continent of Africa as a whole. She currently enjoys a fortune estimated in excess of R1 billion, giving her pride of place as the richest woman of South African origin. Coming behind her on this prestigious list are the likes of medical practitioner Judy Dlamini, businesswoman Nonhlanhla Mjoli-Mncube, medical practitioner, Mamphela Ramphele, businesswoman Christine Ramon, and telecom executive Irene Charnley.
Bridgette Radebe is Jeff Radebe’s Wife and The Mother of His Children
Bridgette Radebe is the legally married wife of Jeff Radebe one of the known names in the South African political scene. However, the details of their dating days and wedding are not available, thus, it is difficult to state where and when they met and the type of wedding they had. The couple has encountered a lot of controversies that shook the very foundation of their marriage but they seem to have overcome it all and still maintain a united front.
Jeff and Bridgette are parents to three children, Malaika, Vukani, and Mandisa Radebe. We have heard so many claims about Bongani Radebe being the couple’s son, but that is not so, they just have the same surnames.
Who is Jeff Radebe?
Born in Cato Manor on the 6th of August 1953, Jeff Radebe is a South African politician who had his foundation in the law profession. His law degree was accomplished at the University of Zululand, following which he proceeded to Karl Marx University located in Leipzig to bag his LLM in International Law; The father of three accomplished this in 1981. Jeff is the current South African Minister of Energy.
Prior to that position, he was active in the SA government, serving in his capacity as Minister in the Presidency; a position that lasted from 2014 to 2018. From 2009 to 2014, Bridgette Radebe’s husband served his country as its Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. He holds pride of place as SA’s longest and continuously serving cabinet member; this conclusion is drawn from the fact that Jeff has been part of all the national administration, starting from 1994 to the general elections in 2019.
The Couple’s Marriage Has Pulled Through a Lot of Controversies
Bridgette Radebe and her husband Jeff have been victims of some vicious controversies. It started with the politician, when it was alleged that he requested a female staff’s nude photos. The speculations really caught fire and went viral at the time. It was even rumored that Jeff apologized but the man never deemed it necessary to confirm or refute any of the claims.
In the same vein, Bridgette was put on the hot seat regarding her alleged affair with Ian Khama – former president of Botswana, whom she was allegedly assisting to topple the present administration. However, unlike her husband who kept mute during his own case, the mother of three came out will all guns blazing to refute the claims.
On his own part, Ian Khama also denied the claims, dismissing it as a fabricated story, and laid the blame at the door of Mokgweetsi Masis – his rival. The former president made this known in an interview session with Independent Media. According to Ian, people are being unfair by attributing Bridgette and Jeff’s marriage challenges to him. Talking further, he narrated how he has known the mother of three since his days in the military. Ian said something is seriously wrong with the BDP if they are actually hatching an agenda to connect him with Bridgette just to accuse them of attempting to topple the present administration. In conclusion, Ian said, in Botswana, the barrel of the gun is never the right tool to take over the government but by following a due democratic process.
Bridgette Radebe and Patrice Motsepe Were Accused of Funding Venson-Moitoi’s Campaign
In another development, Bridgette Radebe found herself in the middle of a bitter power struggle when a story published by Botswana’s Sunday Standard alleged that she collaborated with her mining mogul brother, Patrice Motsepe to fund the electioneering campaign of Venson-Moitoi. According to the story, the Motsepe siblings pumped funds calculated in millions of rand into the campaign. Bridgette’s alleged involvement in the plot to overthrow the incumbent Botswana president Masisi gave rise to palpable tension between the country and South Africa.
Though her name was later cleared of the saga by her country’s banks, the female mining tycoon was still not comfortable with the situation of things. In a public statement, she mentioned how concerned she is about the damage the accusations have wrecked on her reputation. However, she dismissed all the claims as spurious and orchestrated by some state-sponsored black propaganda campaigns. She also stated that her life may be at stake as some of these campaigns usually involve the elimination of targets.
Calling on Botswana authorities, Bridgette Radebe urged them to carry out a thorough investigation on the allegations leveled against her and go-ahead to probe any evidence of abuse of state resources committed against private individuals.
Bridgette also raised her voice to the SA authorities, calling on them to investigate the authenticity of the claims that she committed crimes from their country against the neighboring country.
Narrating how it felt to have your family dragged in the mud, the female mining boss also talked about her children and the effect these spurious allegations might be having on them. According to the mother of three, this is exactly what makes her shed a tear because anything that touches her family touches her heart as well.
The Mining Boss Faced Money Laundering Charges
Again, a couple of SA bank accounts (one a Nedbank account and the other an Absa) holding over $48 million which is about R827.6 million, supposedly stolen from the government of Botswana was traced to Bridgette, naming her as one of the co-signatories. The money was said to have been laundered using several international accounts and the accounts were said to belong to two companies Fire Flies and Blue Flies.
However, Mrs. Radebe vehemently repudiated the allegations; this happened after AfriForum’s announcement that it was appointed by the government of Botswana to facilitate their request to the South African government for joint legal support in a fraud and money-laundering case.
Mrs. Radebe Was Quick To Come Up With A Denial
After the announcement from AfriForum, Bridgette Radebe didn’t let the grass grow under her feet in coming up with a denial. That same night, the billionaire addressed the allegations, dismissing them as baseless and bizarre.
The mining billionaire maintains that there is no atom of truth in those allegations as she has never been involved in money laundering all her life. Radebe said she has been denying the allegations since they surfaced and will continue to deny them.
The Botswana High Court’s Stand On The Issue
The Botswana High Court discredited the allegations after the results of forensic investigations came back negative. According to the reports, the companies Fire Flies and Blue Flies are not registered, thus, they don’t exist. Besides, the two banks involved, Nedbank and Absa gave their confirmations in writing that the two bank accounts do not exist and there are no accounts bearing the said numbers, lending credence to Mrs. Radebe’s claims that allegations were spurious.
The Bank of Botswana also came on the scene to publicly repudiate the claims. Moses Pelaelo – the Bank of Botswana Governor, was on the 26th of November 2019 quoted in The Botswana Gazette, saying ‘It’s all rubbish’. Briefing the country’s parliament, Pelaelo denied having any knowledge of the said money, concluding that such amount does not even exist in the central bank’s accounts in the first place.
Bridgette’s Relationship With Patrice Motsepe – Who is Older?
Being big players in the mining industry is not the only thing Bridgette Radebe has in common with Patrice Motsepe. The two mining magnets were in fact sired by the same man; their father has been accurately identified as Kgosi Augustine Motsepe, a former classroom teacher who is an acclaimed chief of his clan, the Mmakau subdivision of the Tswana tribe of South Africa.
After he left the teaching profession, Kgosi Augustine Motsepe became a small-scale businessman, launching and managing a Spaza shop. It goes without saying that the shop which later became popular among the black mineworkers played a significant role in both Patrice and Bridgette’s life as it exposed them to the basic principles of business. Through the shop, the duo also got first-hand exposure to all things mining.
Patrice and Bridgette are in the same age bracket since the two have just a couple of years gap. However, Bridgette is obviously the older one as she was born in 1960, precisely on the 26th of February. This means she is 62. On the older hand, Patrice is the younger one at 60 years old, being born on the 28th of January 1962. With that said about Bridgette Radebe and Patrice Motsepe, we cannot neglect to mention their sister Tshepo Motsepe – the current first lady of South Africa who is the oldest child of the Motsepe clan. Tshepo was born on the 17th of June 1953, making her 69 years older.
Between Bridgette Radebe and Patrice, Who is Richer?
The question has an obvious answer. Going by their individual net worths and scope of business, it is glaring that the richer of the two is Patrice whose fortune has been calculated in excess of 2.9 billion USD – this figure was taken from the most recent review done in 2021. On the flip side, Bridgette Radebe’s net worth was last estimated at R1 billion. Though it makes her the richest black woman in South Africa, it comes way below what her younger brother has accumulated.
Even though the two siblings are big players in the same mining industry, Patrice has since widened his horizon and moved beyond the mining industry to break new frontiers. He is neck-deep into sports, not just as an enthusiast, but an entrepreneur who has his own football club, Mamelodi Sundowns FC. The mining mogul is also a big wig in the law profession; he is credited with being the first black man to become a partner at the Johannesburg-based law firm known as Bowman Gilfillan. From there, he launched his own mining services contracting firm. Overall, Patrice is a man with commendable versatility that seems to have a finger in every business pie. The latest feather in his cap is becoming the president of CAF.