One of the women who was identified among Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged mistresses in a poster doing the rounds on social media has described the past 48 hours as a “nightmare”.
PhD student Nhlanhla Radebe has said she had never met Ramaphosa.
Her face was splashed on social media as one of the eight women with whom Ramaphosa allegedly had an extramarital affair. The Sunday Independent reported on the alleged affairs on Sunday, based on private email correspondence, but did not name the women.
Ramaphosa has strongly denied the claims, admitting only to one affair, which he said ended eight years ago.
In the poster, titled “Ramaphosa multiple affairs revealed”, Radebe’s picture is shown alongside three other women.
It labels her as girlfriend #4. One of the handles that tweeted the poster is @WMCLeaks – a twitter account targeting politicians, editors and other individuals deemed to be proponents of so-called White Monopoly Capital.
“It is wrong that people can just make things up about people and get away with it. It has been a nightmare.
“I think these are just sick people that think it’s okay to use women as collateral damage to bring down their political opponents,” Radebe said.
She said she first became aware of the poster when a friend alerted her on Saturday morning that her Facebook and Twitter avatar was trending on social media. Though she had received support from her family and friends, she said she was worried about the impact it would have on her future.
“As a black woman, it has not been easy for me to get to where I am. I do not want this kind of negative publicity to be associated with my brand. I have a fiancé that I have had to break this news to,” she said.
She said that no one from the deputy president’s office has contacted her about clearing her name from their side.
Radebe is concerned that the poster could jeopardise her studies. She is doing her PhD in Germany, which has been funded by the Catholic Church.
“I don’t think the church will be happy with this when they hear. In addition, when I got my funding for my masters and PhD, the aim was to come back and work in public service. Now I am not sure how that will happen because people will assume that I got the job through being someone’s mistress and not through my hard work,” she said.
Ramaphosa has been in a political storm since questions about the alleged extramarital affairs started doing the rounds on Friday. He launched a last-minute failed bid on Saturday night to stop the Sunday Independent from publishing the story.
He claims state resources are being used in a “smear campaign” ahead of the ANC’s December elective conference to choose a new party president to replace President Jacob Zuma when his term comes to an end.
Ramaphosa said some of the people in the emails were receiving financial support from his family for their studies. However, Radebe said she was not one of them, as her masters was funded by government’s National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), with additional support from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
She is now appealing to social media users to stop sharing the poster, as it was a “fabricated story”.
“I think, if my involvement with the deputy president could be fabricated, it calls into question the whole basis of this story,” she said.
Radebe is a member of the ANC’s Sefako Makgatho branch, which released a statement over the weekend labelling the posters “malicious”. The branch has endorsed Ramaphosa for the ANC top job.
“I think these actions are detrimental to the unity of the party, and it does nothing for the unity of the ANC. Now more than ever, we have to be united to be able to face the opposition head on,” she said.