CANDID TALK WITH PERCY RADITLADI
Accomplished businessman, corporate leader and media owner are some of the titles that this young turk has under his belt.
But with all his success in the corporate world both locally and regionally,Raditladi has had to face and overcome many challenges and obstacles both on the career and personal front.
Read about his colourful life in this candid interview with Voice reporter Daniel Kenosi to find out how this fearless man who has not been shy of challenges has come out on the other side a better person with no trace of bitterness.
Q. Good Day Percy. Please let us know any other names that you may have.
My name is Percy Sekgomanyane Raditladi.
I was given the name Sekgomanyane after the passing of my grandmother’s cousin who was also called Sekgomanyane. I come from Serowe.
Q. Which schools did you attend?
I went to several schools. My mother was a teacher so I moved around with when she went on transfer to different schools.
I started my schooling in Radisele.From there I proceeded to Selibi- Phikwe where I stayed with my aunt who was also my teacher.
From Phikwe I went to school in Serowe.
Q. How was it being taught by your aunt?
I stayed with her as well and it was quite interesting.
She taught me from standard five until standard seven.
She was one of the best teachers in the school and funny enough I got grade B when the whole class got straight A’s.
I completed my junior school in Serowe and went to Swaneng senior where I was part of that group which went on strike.
Q. What happened and why did you go on strike?
Mr. Pheto as a new headmaster brought in strict rules which led to a student revolt.
We kicked dustbins and went to beat those who were not part of the strike.
The whole school was suspended but we became the top school when final examination results came out.
Q. Please share more…
I was one of the top students and from there I went to do national service (Tirelo Sechaba).
I worked as a news reporter for BOPA and radio Botswana.
From Tirelo Sechaba I went to University of Botswana where I was supposed to pursue medication but I didn’t do well which led to me developing interest in piloting but unfortunately Air Botswana closed down the pilot program after admitting me and I just went back to Serowe.
1994 I went to school in South Africa at the University of Cape Town under Debswana sponsorship where I studied psychology and sociology.
I was one of the top students.
Q. How did you develop interest in business?
I always had a passion for business and so when I got to the university I started reading more on it and joining business clubs to develop myself in the field.
I started running a micro lending business. Students used to borrow money from me and used their computers as security.
I had not lost interest in the media world either.
One of my friends then paid a visit to Botswana and brought back The Midweek sun newspaper which had an advert calling on people to bid for private radio station licenses.
I then called my friend Tiro Kganela who now works for BMC to go collect the tender documents.
I sent him the required money for the documents and he sent the documents to me in South Africa.
It was in 1998 around April and when I received that document I couldn’t understand a thing so I called my friends Dumi Lopang and Moatlhodi Lekaukau who were into entertainment back home to suggest people who could help me in starting a radio station.
I then went to meet DJ Fresh at YFM who then introduced me to his boss who showed interest in partnering with me.
He then suggested that I come back the following day to collect a letter of support but because I was a student and didn’t have money to go back to CapeTown and come back to Jo-Burg for the letter the following day, he had to write it there and there.
I went back to school and immediately wrote to Debswana head office informing them that I was no longer interested in studying because I had a letter that was to change my life.
Q. Very interesting! What happened when you landed back?
I was broke and had no accommodation.
I then called my mother who lent me P10 000 as start up capital.
I had lost a lot of money in putting together the tender documents.
I put P5000 aside for rent. I used to rent a P300 house in Mogoditshane.
I still had that support letter from YFM which I took around to people I wanted to get support from.
I first went to the late Clara Olsen who gave me P30 000 and many others also followed in supporting me.
Whilst I was busy building up the consortium to build funds to start the radio station I was offered employment opportunity by Debswana.
Q. What happened then?
In 1999 I had already set up a board but prior to that we were awarded the license and required to raise P3m which I didn’t have at the time but that money was to be issued as guarantee.
I then went to YFM owners who immediately offered me the money.
By then I had already found the name for my radio station and I called it Yarona FM but prior to that I had thought of calling it YFM but I felt it wouldn’t sound original hence the name Yarona FM which means it’s ours.
Q. How was the feeling when you received the license?
I was overwhelmed. I received that license on May 17, 1999 at the same time with Mascom.
Funny enough I registered Yarona FM on my birthday in December 1998.
We then went on air for the first time on the 22nd of August 1999 from a room at Grand Palm hotel.
Q. Who were the first Yarona FM employees?
I set up the team with Mike Proctor and I then got a guy who worked at Spar in Selibi- Phikwe called Dumi Lopang who became the marketing manager and Robin Robi Rob was one of the presenters.
The first advert inviting radio presenters to audition was on Gazette.
I ran the station until 2002.
Q. Are you still part of Yarona FM?
Yes!! I am still a share holder.
My family trust is the shareholder and the South Africans were bought out by a local consortium.
Before that I had a big fight with other stakeholders who wanted to get rid of the South African and me because they felt I was siding with the South Africans. I won the matter in court.
Q. You then went into the corporate world. Please share with us.
I then decided to join Kgalagadi Brewery Limited (KBL) and just as I was settling in, G4S dropped in an offer and I moved out to manage their offices here but before leaving I was appointed one of the Directors at the age of 27.
I did best at G4S Botswana and I was moved to head G4S Nigeria where I also excelled.
Q. Why did you quit G4S?
I had a fall out with my boss but I am still a board member of G4S Nigeria but when I came back Botswana National Sports council gave me an offer and I joined them.
Prior to joining BNSC I bought a Verimark franchise which is now doing well in Gaborone and Francistown.
Q. You didn’t last at BNSC. Why?
When I joined that sports council I found a mess and it was grossly managed so I had to cut down lazy people.
I was innocently doing what any manager would do to save an organization dying but didn’t realise I was creating enemies.
The board didn’t share same vision with me like the chairman and the Government did.
I was later attacked and had to consider my health first so I resigned.
Q. Do you regret creating enemies whilst at BNSC?
I don’t regret a thing. Whether they hired thugs to attempt to kill me and even made up a story that I raped a security guard at my house, for me all that was just nothing because I had done nothing wrong to anyone.
Q. What’s the story behind the story of you going to court last year?
I got attacked and the sports council offered to hire a male security guard for me.
Two weeks later he laid charges saying I attempted to rape him and later changed to say I fondled his private parts.
They later withdrew the case in court. It’s alright because I know there were people sponsoring all this and their aim was to bring me down.
I used to receive threats through letters when I was still with BNSC and I reported the matter to DIS.
I learnt who my true friends are through all these trials and some people were even rejoicing saying I am gay.
Q. Are you gay?
It’s not for me to tell you what I do in my bedroom with whoever I do it with so it will always remain like that.
Do people who are straight ever tell that they are straight? Who gives birth to gay people?
Isnt it straight people that give birth to gay people?.
I don’t think I need to go out and tell people my sexual orientation.
It’s all up to them to look and judge but at the end of the day I live a very happy life.
Q. How is the business world treating you?
My retail stores are not doing badly and my stationery company is also doubling. Yarona FM is also tops.
Q. Thank you for your time Raditladi. What’s up for the weekend?
I don’t work on weekend so clubbing is what I do mostly.
I never go to clubs here so most of the times I go to South Africa because I don’t want to appear on The Voice dancing the night away.
On Sunday is church.