Fond anecdotes on how ABC Motsepe stayed true to Orlando Pirates

The inconvertible Orlando Pirates supporter and late father of Mamelodi Sundowns owner, Augustine Butana Chaane (ABC) Motsepe, was honoured at an intimate luncheon hosted by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) this week.

ABC Motsepe, in his honour the national second division football league is named, had an honorary doctorate posthumously conferred on him by TUT. The event on October 24 was during the Pretoria-based university’s spring graduation period. 

None of ABC Motsepe’s offspring managed to attend the graduation ceremony.

To hand over the certificate of Doctor of Management Sciences in Organisational Leadership (Honoris Causa) to the family, TUT organised a lunch attended by ABC’s first-born Tshepo Motsepe. Dr Motsepe, a medical doctor, is also South Africa’s first lady as she is the wife of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Also in attendance was ABC’s second-born and former Miss South Africa, Veronica Rosette Motsepe; mining mogul and SA’s Pan African Parliament ambassador Bridgette Motsepe; Patrice Motsepe and his wife Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe; architect Fanuel Motsepe and the last-born Jacqueline Motsepe.

ABC was a renowned mathematics teacher turned entrepreneur whose philanthropic work endeared him to communities in Soweto and Mmakau village in North West province. He taught the likes of Jomo Cosmos owner Jomo Sono at Orlando High School, whose alumni include Pirates’ Irvin Khoza and Kaizer Chiefs’ Kaizer Motaung.

‘Digits’ for prowess with numbers

Nicknamed “Digits” for his prowess with number, the Orlando High School library is named Digits in ABC Motsepe’s honour. 

South Africa’s first lady Tshepo Motsepe, TUT vice-chancellor Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, and power couple Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe and husband Patrice Motsepe at a luncheon in honour of ABC Motsepe. /Phumla Mkize

TUT vice-chancellor Prof Tinyiko Maluleke stoked the fires of playful discontent when he asked Patrice, Mamelodi Sundowns owner, why he failed to win over his father as his club’s  supporter.

Billionaire Patrice chuckled as he shared anecdotes of embarrassing moments in which his father had demonstrated his true love for the Buccaneers over his son’s team.

“He used to remind me that I was born in Orlando and when I was born, there was no Mamelodi Sundowns,” he said.

Big sister Tshepo quipped: “The late sports presenter Dan Setshedi phoned me during a match between Pirates and Sundowns. He said, ‘Ausi Tshepo, please can you talk to your father. He is sitting with the Pirates people and Irvin Khoza in their suite and your brother is in the next suite’.

“My father used to say; once a Pirate always a Pirate. That’s why I only support Bafana Bafana,” Tshepo quipped.

Architect Fanuel Motsepe is Patrice Motsepe’s younger brother. Here is holding his father’s honorary certificate and a portrait by artist Pete Malose./Phumla Mkize

Patrice also regaled the audience of about 70 people with colourful tales of his father’s faith in the Bucs.

“One day Pirates were playing Sundowns at Ellis Park and the score was 4-1 [with Sundowns leading]. He came to me and said: ‘Tell your boys to stop their madness, tell them to stop scoring now. Orlando Pirates is our club,” he said.

And when he recounted an incident at Orlando stadium, Maluleke must have conceded that there was no way Patrice would have converted his father into a Sundowns supporter.

Family bankrolling SA football

Patrice told guests that on that day his father asked the late Downs faithful Alex Shakoane at Orlando Stadium during a Downs and Bucs match “to call his child”.

“Alex Shakoane came running to me saying my father wanted to talk to me,” said Patrice.  “When I got there, my father said to Alex: ‘No, I didn’t say call my son; I said call my child,” Patrice chuckled, explaining that his father was referring to Zodwa Khoza (now late daughter of Pirates chairperson Irvin Khoza).

“Zodwa came, grabbed him and put him on the side of Orlando Pirates,” he said.

Patrice shared that football is in the Motsepe family, but also added that the family has added the Blue Bulls as part of the family legacy.

TUT vice-chancellor Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Dr Tshepo Motsepe and TUT registrar Dr Michael Mushaathoni. /Phumla Mkize

“Sports bring people together. We wanted to use rugby to bring black and white people together.

“When there were arguments about Banyana’s payment, my wife (Dr Precious Motsepe-Moloi) said to me: ‘I will take out my pennies and give it to them’.”

The Motsepe Foundation ended up donating R10-million towards the Banyana Banyana bonuses for their World Cup participation.

The Motsepe Foundation is also the commercial sponsor of the National First Division, SA football’s second-tier league. The league is therefore known as the Motsepe Foundation Championship.

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