‘I wanted President Cyril Ramaphosa but I could not get hold of him, but I know one day it will happen….’ Lerato Makgatho couldn’t believe her luck when two cabinet ministers fell for her. She tells DRUM about her time with the powerful duo.
EVER since she was a little girl, all she wanted was to be famous. Lerato Melda Makgatho’s dream came true and now her name is known all across Mzansi – but not for the reasons she’d hoped. The slay queen and one-time street child is at the heart of an alleged love triangle involving two of the country’s most powerful politicians – finance minister Tito Mboweni and mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, who is also national chairperson of the ANC.
Lerato (26) made headlines when she revealed she’d been in relationships with both men. She claims they treated her to holidays, meals at high-end restaurants and liaisons at top hotels, as well as a monthly “girlfriend allowance” of tens of thousands of rands.
“I have a house because of them. I have two cars because of their allowance,” she told City Press.
Lerato says she ended the alleged dalliances when she learnt they were going to be blackmailed because of it.
Gwede ( 64) is married with three children, while Tito (60) is not married.
Lerato is a mother of two children, both born before she met the powerhouse politicians.
Now the slay queen has added author to her list of accomplishments, with the publication of her memoir The Dark Side of Being a Slay Queen.
“Although I’m not even that much of a slay queen,” she claims.
“Women do all sorts of things for social media attention and likes. But what they don’t tell you is what happens behind the keyboard.”
It took her two years to write the book “and yes, a few other famous names are going to come out”, she says.
She was “blessed” when the two ministers dropped into her lap in quick succession – first Tito in 2017, then Gwede late last year.
“God is on my side; another minister!” Lerato says she thought when she realised Gwede had focused his gaze on her – literally – as she waited for Tito at a restaurant at the five-star Sheraton Hotel near the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
“It felt a little bit like a jackpot.”
Gwede allegedly came up to her and asked, “What kind of bastard makes a beautiful woman like you wait?”
She says at the time she didn’t recognize the smooth talker as Uncle Gweezy.
“I just thought: ‘Sugar daddy and money…’”
Lerato is no stranger to DRUM. In 2015 she shared the trauma of having survived a rape attempt when she was 16, in the My Story section of the magazine. “Poverty was my constant companion. It got to the point where I ended up begging for food and washing cars on the streets of Pretoria so that I could study and stay in school without worrying about not having schoolbooks or a uniform,” she wrote.
Lerato was determined to be rich and famous so she decided to become a model and actress.
She’d won a pageant when she was 16 and was approached by a “promoter” who invited her to a photo shoot where he tried to rape her.
She fought him off and stabbed him with a pair of scissors.
“I think I lost my mind for a bit because when I came to, he was lying in a pool of blood and I was surrounded by the neighbours who called the police,” she wrote.
Lerato later signed with a casting agency and worked as an extra on popular soaps, including Generations: The Legacy, Rhythm City, and Muvhango, before landing roles in various reality TV shows and opening her own casting agency for extras, Bontle ke Botho.
But bit parts on TV weren’t enough for Lerato. She wanted to get rich and the way to do that, she decided, was with a blesser. “I went on the internet and watched videos about how to attract men. It was really easy.”
Before she knew it, men were falling for her charms but not the one she desperately desired. “I wanted the president, but it wasn’t easy to reach him.”
A FACEBOOK post announcing Tito Mboweni’s birthday popped up in Lerato’s feed on 16 March 2017 and she didn’t waste time sending him a birthday message. She’d never met the former governor of the Reserve Bank but he sent her his cellphone number and they chatted on WhatsApp for about two weeks before meeting in person, she alleges.
“He was a gentleman,” Lerato says. “He didn’t try to sleep with me or ask for nu_de pictures. He’s very oldfashioned.”
The year she was allegedly with him was “bliss”. She claims he paid for her holiday stays around the country and took her for dinners at expensive restaurants. He also gave her a monthly allowance of R4 000, she says.
“He would pay R1 500 just for dinner, and my heart would sink because that was what my mom would spend on groceries every month.”
As they grew closer, they spent less time at hotels and more time at his house in Killarney, Joburg.
“He even introduced me to his son one afternoon when we found him at the house. Things were getting serious,” she says. And yes, he introduced her to others as his girlfriend, Lerato adds. Tito had a conservative side, she claims. He wanted her to clean up her social media, remove her bikini pictures and stop wearing weaves “because he likes his women natural”.
“He wanted to change me,” she says.
When he was appointed finance minister in October last year, their relationship began to fizzle out. “He was always on the road. He didn’t have time for me anymore.”
She was waiting to meet Tito for lunch at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria when she was approached by a middle-aged man with a big belly.
“He asked what I was having and told the waiter to order [a glass of Moët & Chandon] and put it on his tab.”
“I didn’t know he was Gwede Mantashe. I just saw money. I saw someone who was going to bless me.”
They exchanged phone numbers and started chatting on WhatsApp.
She ended the relationship with the finance minister and focused her attention on Gwede, who she describes as a “level-one blesser”.
He was giving her a monthly girlfriend allowance of R15 000, she claims.
Two months passed before she found out that Gwede – “a tiger” in the bedroom, she alleges – was also a cabinet minister. “I was like, ‘God, are you testing me?’ From one minister to another. I knew there and then that my life would never be the same,” she says.
Her excitement came to an abrupt end when she started getting calls from a man who asked her to confirm her relationships with the ministers.
“He promised me R1 million. He said they wanted to use the affair to blackmail him.”
She rejected the stranger’s offer. “I didn’t want to be involved. I am a fly, these people could squash me.”
She ended the relationship, she says, although “I still speak with Gwede”.
“He’s an easygoing guy, not fussy at all. He’s such a darling.”
Tito Mboweni and Gwede Mantashe were approached for comment but declined through their spokespeople.
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