'I'm sorry,' says Ramaphosa to Malema after wife-abuse claim in parliament

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in parliament on Thursday. He has apologised to EFF leader Julius Malema, after ANC MP Boy Mamabolo accused Malema of physically abusing his wife.
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks in parliament on Thursday. He has apologised to EFF leader Julius Malema, after ANC MP Boy Mamabolo accused Malema of physically abusing his wife.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised to EFF leader Julius Malema for allegations made by ANC MP Boy Mamabolo that he was abusing his wife, Mantoa.

Ramaphosa addressed Malema towards the end of his response to the two-day state of the nation address (Sona) debate in parliament on Thursday.

He also called for a truce between former political allies Malema and Mamabolo.

“My heart goes out to Mantoa and your family, honourable Malema,” he said.

Turning to Malema, he said: “And Honourable Malema, as the allegation was made against you, I felt for Mantoa, your wife, because it was uncalled for, I must say. It was improper. It was not correct for it to be raised, and if I can offer an apology to you about this, I would like to because it was uncalled for,” said Ramaphosa to loud applause from MPs.

However, the president also responded to claims by Malema - made on Tuesday, on day one of the Sona debate - that Ramaphosa was a wife-beater.

He said that Malema first raised this about three years ago.

“He raised it in 2017 and said that the president used to assault his first wife. Hope Ramaphosa. Now, Hope Ramaphosa responded and said that is not true.

“You have raised the issue of my late former wife Nomazizi. She is not here to respond for herself,” he said.

Ramaphosa said, in reference to a text message he received from a young woman upset at how gender-based violence was used as a political tool, that “we should not resort to using issues such as these, as it was used also against you, to politicise and to trivialise an important issue that affects so many women in our country”.

“All of us need to engage in this struggle against GBV.

“I want to say, I am a father of daughters, I am a grandfather of granddaughters, I am a husband, I am a brother to a sister, and I also have 50% of the people in the cabinet who are women, and we also have South Africans, the majority of whom are women - and these are the people all of us must stand up and engage in the fight against GBV in our lifetime.

“As we do it, we must have respect for one another and show respect for the women of our country,” he said.


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