Mahlatse Gallens, News24
Johannesburg – The father of the young woman entangled in claims that Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula smuggled her into the country using a state jet, claims she has been brainwashed.
Laurent Wege has dismissed his 23-year old daughter Michelle’s claims that he abused her and tried to get her involved in an illegal business venture.
He has instead accused Mapisa-Nqakula of brainwashing his daughter.
“Michelle is confused, she is a victim of the minister,” Wege said.
In an interview with News24 on Tuesday, Michelle admitted to using illegal documents to leave her home country of Burundi to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
She claimed she had no choice as she was trying to hide from her well-connected father, who could have traced her whereabouts.
In 2016, the Sunday Times reported that Mapisa-Nqakula used a state jet to “smuggle” Michelle out of the DRC in 2014. She denied the claims and said she was on an official visit to DRC to discuss the deployment of soldiers to the east of the Congo, ahead of the African Union summit in 2014.
Michelle was detained at the airport in Kinshasa when officials noticed her passport was a forgery. She failed to respond in the local languages when questioned. She however used her legal documents to travel to South Africa.
Michelle told News24 that she told airport officials that she was fleeing her father. They thought she was smuggling in contraband goods.
In an email, Wege said his daughter was “being coached”.
“If she were a minor, I would defend her and not allow her to be brainwashed. My daughter was never in any of my business ventures as she has always studied abroad in Europe and the US,” Wege said.
The defence ministry was not immediately available for comment.