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Malusi Gigaba’s lawyers have contacted me‚ Redi Tlhabi confirms

Radio and television personality Redi Tlhabi.
Radio and television personality Redi Tlhabi.
Image: Sunday Times

Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has made good on his threat of legal action against journalist-turned-author Redi Tlhabi.

Tlhabi took to her social media on Monday to confirm that Gigaba’s lawyers had contacted her.

“So last week an ex-colleague got a call from honourable Gigaba's lawyers asking for my home address. I kindly gave my lawyer's address. He received a letter today‚ basically asking I retract within seven days‚ or else.

“So no summons yet‚ just a request for apology and retraction‚” Tlhabi said.

Gigaba last month issued a warning to Tlhabi‚ saying she should withdraw – and apologise for - her public allegations that he had amended visa regulations on travelling with children because of a personal vendetta.

Tlhabi had alleged that Gigaba was livid after a relative of his ex-wife had taken his child on holiday without his permission. The laws around travelling with children were then tightened.

The new rule stated that all children needed an unabridged birth certificate along with their passport before being allowed to pass through customs. Written consent was also needed from the child’s parents if they were not travelling 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?" she said in a Twitter thread.

The tweets came 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.

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‚ supporting his version that he simply implemented a law that had already been approved by his predecessor‚ parliament and the president.

"A copy of the proclamation approving the regulations @RediTlhabi saw fit to despicably drag my daughter into. She 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‚" he tweeted.

He then fired another broadside at Tlhabi.

"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‚" he wrote.

A mud-slinging match played out on social media as Tlhabi responded to Gigaba.

"I did not victimise your daughter and you know it. But it is typical of politicians to twist context and cry wolf. We both know about the strange events around journalists and whistleblowers as the breath of #StateCapture unfolded. So I consider myself warned‚ by you‚" she tweeted.

She highlighted that when the rule was put in place‚ Gigaba was at the helm.

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

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