‘Relax. Asseblief‚’ says Tlhabi after Gigaba sues her for defamation

Redi Tlhabi
Redi Tlhabi
Image: Sunday Times

Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba is suing journalist and author Redi Tlhabi for alleged defamation after a series of tweets this week.

The home affairs department confirmed the legal action in a short statement on Thursday.

Gigaba issued an ultimatum to Tlhabi to withdraw her comments on Wednesday night – this after she alleged that the minister had amended visa regulations on travelling with children because of a personal vendetta.

When she didn’t withdraw‚ the legal action was instituted.

But Tlhabi seemed unfazed on Thursday evening‚ tweeting: “Relax. Asseblief.” 

She alleged on Tuesday that Gigaba was livid after a relative of his ex-wife took his child on holiday without his permission. The laws were then tightened.

The new rule stated that all children needed an unabridged birth certificate along with their passport before being allowed to pass customs. Written consent was also needed from the child’s parents if they were not traveling together.

“YOU had a personal issue of your ex-wife making travel arrangements with your daughter without your consent‚ so you decided ‘I'll sort this problem out?’ You implemented untested regulations‚ claiming to address child trafficking? Have your regulations brought child trafficking down‚” Tlhabi tweeted.

The tweets followed shortly after Gigaba announced that the visa regulations‚ which have been blamed for having a negative effect on tourism in South Africa‚ were being relaxed.

On Wednesday‚ Gigaba tweeted a copy of the proclamation into the stringent child visa laws‚ which he announced in 2015‚ and accused Tlhabi of “using my name to ingratiate yourself to the band of uninformed incorrigible racists you’ve made a career out of sucking up to”.

The document showed that the proclamation was signed in 2014‚ before he was minister of home affairs.

“She (Tlhabi) has until 17h00‚ tomorrow‚ to withdraw and apologise for her malicious lies‚ failing which she will have to start raising money for a hefty damages claim‚” Gigaba tweeted.

"For the record Redi Tlhabi‚ I’m not bothered by your using my name to ingratiate yourself to the band of uninformed incorrigible racists you’ve made a career out of sucking up to. Victimise my daughter again‚ though‚ and you’ll discover that I’m capable of sinking to your level.”

Tlhabi highlighted that Gigaba was the minister when the rule was implemented.

“You were minister at implementation. You were minister at public hearings to which you were summoned after snubbing them & sending Enver. You were minister when tourism sector reached out to you‚ you were minister when Stats SA gave declined tourism figures in 2014/15.”