Friday, 21 January 2022

Pretoria: The Presidency says it stands by its statement on a discussion between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu this week, regarding an opinion column she penned in a national media publication about the South African judiciary.

This comes after Sisulu on Thursday distanced herself from a Presidency statement saying that she had apologised for her comments in the opinion piece titled “Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?”.

The President and Sisulu met in Cape Town earlier this week, where President Ramaphosa “admonished” the Minister about the article.

Sisulu’s comments in the opinion piece include that Africans in the judicial system “have settled with the worldview and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors. They are only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority. The lack of confidence that permeates their rulings against their own speaks very loudly, while others, secure in their agenda, clap behind closed doors.”

The Presidency’s statement quoted the Minister as having retracted the “hurtful comments”.

“I accept that my column has levelled against the judiciary and African judges in particular unsubstantiated, gratuitous and deeply hurtful comments.

“I retract unequivocally my hurtful comments. I recognise that many women and men judges past and present have served their country in the judiciary with dedication and patriotism and some have made sterling sacrifices in the fight against apartheid and colonialism. I apologise for and regret the hurt I have caused the judiciary,” the statement read.

Sisulu has subsequently released a statement in what she called a bid to “clarify a deliberate misrepresentation… regarding her meeting with the President”.

“We had a mature and sensible meeting, and we thus concluded on good terms. In fact, yesterday (Thursday) the President called me and read the specific sentence as redesigned that he had found offensive. We ended our discussion on an amicable base,” she said.

The Minister’s statement further highlighted that she “respects the Office of the Presidency and the President”.

“However, [Minister Sisulu] wishes to record that she is troubled that the President’s media team was deliberately mischievous in the statement issued, as the Minister at no point in the conversation was firstly admonished or secondly expressed regrets resulting in agreeing to withdraw or apologise for her article, but agreed to reconsider the particular line relating to the judiciary, which the President had raised issue with and was to share with her.” the statement read.

The Presidency has said it has “nothing to add” to its original statement.