SPORTS, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has revealed that actress Natasha Thahane made the request for the reported R1 million scholarship to study at the New York Film Academy directly to him.
Mthethwa was responding to written parliamentary questions from EFF MP Khanya Ceza after revelations that Thahane, who is the granddaughter of Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, admitted she received R1m from the government to pursue her studies at the New York Film Academy in 2017.
This was after the intervention of former National Assembly speaker and ANC national chairperson at the time, Baleka Mbete.
However, Mthethwa said that his department was not aware of the role played by Mbete in securing the funding for the actress.
”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.
“This request is similar to many others that my office and the department constantly receive from members of the public. The public does this possibly because I am the political head of the department,” he said.
Mthethwa said the funds were for Thahane’s tuition fees, and that the terms of the contract with the department stipulated that she must complete her studies.
According to Mthethwa, the funding was approved by the deputy director-general for the institutional governance branch in 2017.
Ceza had wanted to know the extent to which Mbete influenced the funding for Thahane, the terms and conditions of the scholarship, and who in the department had approved the windfall.
Last month, Thahane stated that she went to Mbete and told her she needed to go study.
Mbete managed to speak to the arts and culture department, which then funded Thahane’s studies.