Mokonyane told controversial Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson’s family, friends and employees that party members returning from exile in the early 1990s were assisted by the Watsons and their children’s school fees paid by them.
The former Gauteng premier was speaking at Watson’s memorial service at the Little Falls Christian Centre in Roodepoort, Joburg.
Watson, who was 71, died in a mysterious car accident on Monday morning on the day he was scheduled to testify at a SA Revenue Service inquiry into the tax affairs of his company now known as African Global Operations.
She defended her long-time friend Watson, saying he was persecuted.
“We get persecuted because we believe in a fair and just society.
“These are white people who when it was not fashionable to fund the ANC for ulterior motives, they gave their all,” she said.
She said the Watsons, who are devout Christians, believed in contextualising theology.
“You can’t talk about the kingdom of God and not talk about the injustices on Earth,” Mokonyane said.
She pleaded with South Africans to give the Watsons space to mourn.
“I’ve seen it happening with my own son, I’ve seen it happening with my own husband Don’t do it even to your worst enemy,” added Mokonyane, referring to the news of Watson’s death being reported before his family was informed.
Mokonyane’s husband, Serge, died in April while her son Retlabusa was found dead in 2010.
She is still wearing clothes signifying mourning her husband.
She likened the way Watson’s death was reported to the assassination of Struggle icon Chris Hani in 1993 when pictures of his bloodied body were published in newspapers across the world. Mokonyane called for the media and social media users to leave the dead and their grieving families alone. She said she would reveal what Watson had done at the right time.
Mokonyane also threatened to reveal things done by controversial former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi, who told the commission of inquiry probing state capture that the company had paid for security installations at Mokonyane’s home in Mogale City, and gave her alcohol and supplied her with meat.
Mokonyane was among high-profile people who attended the memorial service including Hani’s widow Dimpho Hani, former ANC and COPE leader Thozamile Botha, ex-president Jacob Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s eldest daughter Gugu Zuma-Ncube.
Younger brother Valence paid a moving tribute to Watson, describing him as umkhuluwa (isiXhosa for elder brother). “He never wanted anything but the best for Bosasa. He didn’t like the way his Bosasa family was attacked,” Valence said, referring to the bad publicity the company has garnered over the years.
The Watsons, Valence explained, despise racism and do not subscribe to evil. He said his brother’s weakness was that he was too trusting and easily forgave those who wronged him.
Watson will be buried in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday.