Sisulu apologises, withdraws opinion piece after being ‘admonished’ by Ramaphosa

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has withdrawn comments she made against South Africa's judiciary through a statement issued by the Presidency.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses protesters against gender-based violence outside of Parliament on 5 September 2019. He was accompanied by Minister of Human Settlements Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu and other officials. Picture: Kaylynn Palm/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Presidency said on Thursday that Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was "admonished" by President Cyril Ramaphosa over her controversial opinion article titled Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?.

The piece, published in the first week of January on website IOL, has been widely criticised. She called black judges "mentally colonised Africans who have settled with the worldview and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors", adding that they were "only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority".

The minister's article added that: "There is a need for an overhaul of a justice system that does not work for Africa and Africans. If the law does not sufficiently address the issue of the food fight, the law will fail, and inevitably it will play out in the streets. We have a neo-liberal constitution with foreign inspiration, but who are the interpreters? And where is the African value system of this Constitution and the rule of law? If the law does not work for Africans in Africa, then what is the use of the rule of law?"

The comments were slammed by politicians, commentators, civil organisations and struggle stalwarts . Others said the piece showed her "obsession with factional politics". She responded to criticism levelled at her with another article published on Africa News Global, saying her comments were "narrowly read" for "expediency".

The president took issue with two other parts of the piece; the Presidency said in a statement released on Thursday during Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's matric results announcement, which were:

“They are only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority", and “the lack of confidence that permeates their rulings against their own speaks very loudly, while others, secure in their agenda, clap behind closed doors.”

Sisulu in the same statement said she regretted what she said and apologised for the hurt she caused the judiciary.

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