Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe on Monday denied paying hush money to journalists over a story about an extra-marital affair.
The Sunday World reported this weekend that Mantashe paid the journalists R70,000 in exchange for not publishing a story about his alleged love triangle involving a young woman, along with Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
There have since been calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to crack the whip on Mantashe and for the names of the journalists allegedly involved to be revealed.
It's a disgrace that mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe sees nothing wrong in being involved in a criminal activity.
Why on earth was he allegedly involved in a bribery scandal with journalists that he unashamedly told a newspaper about?
But, the newspaper's editor and publisher Makhudu Sefara was quoted saying he had met journalists and they had denied accepting money from Mantashe.
Mantashe's revelation of journalists being bribed does not only affect him but it also tarnishes the credibility of the media in the country.
Journalists, by law, are free but that does not stop newsmakers from insulting and intimidating them when they report on their wrongdoings.
The latest incident was when two journalists were attacked in July while covering a march that was in support of the then suspended eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede in Durban.
When the crowd clashed with cops, a journalist was roughed up and another ended up being arrested by metro cops. He was later released without being charged.
Sadly, the esteemed minister's confession is likely to worsen working conditions for journalists, so we call on him to name them and provide evidence to their employer so that they can face consequences for their actions.
However, On Tuesday morning, Mantashe denied the claims.
"This past weekend, following a Sunday World report, various statements have been made about alleged bribery of journalists by Mr Mantashe, who is also the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy," a statement issued by Moferefere Lekorotsoana, chief of staff in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, reads.
"The statement attributed to him seems to have created an impression of him being involved in the act of bribery. Mr Mantashe is clear that none of the sort occurred.
"Further, attested to by the newspaper, there was no verification of these allegations prior to the publication of the story.
"Mr Mantashe, both in his personal capacity and that of being the executive authority, believes in upholding the integrity of the media; and media freedom," Lekorotsoana said.
The DA has asked Parliament's Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests to probe conduct relating to Mantashe and claims that he bribed two journalists.
The South African Editors' Forum also condemned the allegations, calling Mantashe's reported admission "brazen".
The Tiso Blackstar Group, the previous publisher of Sunday World, on Sunday said it "noted with shock the alleged admission by a sitting government minister to have corruptly bribed two Sunday World journalists".
Moshoeshoe Monare, deputy managing director: Tiso Blackstar Group, said: "Until June 21 this year, the company was the publisher and owner of the Sunday World.
"These allegations were never brought to the attention of the company. The press code and the company's own editorial policy are opposed to any form of corrupt and unethical journalism.
"It's a dismissible offence to accept money or any form of bribe to write or not to write a story.
"The Sunday World has since been purchased by Fundudzi Media, and all the employees of this title have been transferred to Fundudzi in terms of Section 197 of the Labour Relations Act. However, these allegations are deeply concerning and affect the integrity and credibility of the industry and the profession at large," Monare said.