The president saw the ready opportunity to hit back at the institution that brought immense pressure on him in the past month.

President Jacob Zuma on Friday said if he was a journalist he would focus on human interest stories such as the story of the helpful neighbour to Ontlametse Phalatse, who was one of two young women in SA living with Progeria, instead of concentrating on making headlines “starting with the letter Z”.

“This neighbour is a good neighbour … people should take an example from her … If I was a journalist I would focus on human interest stories and stop focusing on headlines which start with the letter Z,” said the President in apparent reference to recent headlines of anti-Zuma marches across the country.

Zuma was speaking at Phalatse’s funeral in Hebron, north of Pretoria, where hundreds gathered to pay their last respects to the brave young woman.