Nathi Mthethwa (Minister of Sport, arts and culture) during the CAF president candidacy press conference at SAFA House in Johannesburg, Veli Nhlapo

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa has revealed actress Natasha Thahane’s request for funds to study in the US was made directly to him.

Mthethwa revealed this in a written reply to a parliamentary question by EFF MP Khanya Ceza, who wanted details of the funding, including the alleged involvement of former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete.

Mthethwa said his department was not aware of Mbete’s role in securing Thahane’s funding.

“What we know is that Ms Thahane made a request for financial support towards her studies at the New York Film Academy directly to me as the minister,” he said.

“This request is similar to many others my office and the department constantly receives from members of the public. The public does this possibly because I am the political head of the department,” said Mthethwa.

He confirmed the funds were for Thahane’s tuition fees at the New York Film Academy, and the terms for her contract with the department was for her film studies and the condition that she should complete her studies in film.

The funding was approved by the deputy director-general for Institutional Governance in 2017, said Mthethwa.

Thahane, who is Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s grandchild, came under heavy criticism last month when she revealed she “made a call” to Mbete to help get the funds.

“I asked Mam’ Baleka (Mbete) and was like, ‘Mama, I need to go back to school. I’ve been accepted. I don’t know what I’m going to do, can I have funds? Please arrange something for me.’ She managed to speak to (the department) arts and culture and they were able to help me,” she said during an interview on MacG’s Podcast & Chill.

She revealed she received funds after reaching out to Mbete.

Social media users accused both of abusing their social and political standing to access the funds.

Thahane changed her tune days later, saying she had no personal relationship with Mbete and had merely run into her and asked her for advice about funding options after she had been accepted by the US film school.

“She advised me to explore the department of sports, arts and culture because they have funding opportunities. That was my first conversation and last conversation with her,” she said in a recorded apology and explanation posted on social media.


By Daniel

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