Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu has distanced herself from a statement by the presidency claiming she has apologised and retracted her article attacking the judiciary and the constitution.

In a short statement on Thursday evening, Sisulu said she stood by the article, which has been viewed as an attack on the judiciary and the constitution.

Her spokesperson, Steven Motale, confirmed the statement as being legitimate.

The presidency earlier said Sisulu had apologised for her article, titled “Hey Mzansi, have we seen justice?”, and said it was not backed by any facts. The statement said Sisulu apologised after being “admonished” by President Cyril Ramaphosa at a meeting in Cape Town this week.

Sisulu’s open defiance puts Ramaphosa in a tight corner as calls for her axing are now expected to mount.

Ramaphosa’s people initially advised the president not to act against her, lest she appear as victim during a year where the ANC is scheduled to elect new leaders. She is believed to be campaigning to challenge Ramaphosa at the December ANC national conference.

According to the presidency, Sisulu was reprimanded specifically for her attack on the judiciary in which she said those in the higher echelons of the judicial system were “mentally colonised” and had settled “with the worldview and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors”.

Sisulu said she had never undertaken to retract nor apologise.

“Under no circumstances did I commit to any retraction or apology since I stand by what I penned,” Sisulu said in a statement. “The content of the president’s statement in its current form is unfortunate as it is not what we agreed on. In this regard, I wish to distance myself from such.”

She said she would release a comprehensive statement on Friday.

“I wish to categorically disown this statement in its entirety as a misrepresentation of the said meeting I had with the president. The president and I met on Wednesday at 9pm at his house. In such a meeting, he shared his challenge with one aspect of the article on the judges.

“The president proposed an intermediary that would focus on the one line about the judges to resolve that. I awaited such to be communicated, which would do nothing to the entire article.”

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