"Reading for leisure is also therapeutic. It relaxes the mind, body and soul," the Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga tweeted. Picture: Twitter

The Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga has his work cut out for him. As a public servant, he's probably called on from time to time to promote some of the department's campaigns, including its Lead to Read initiative. 

Launched in 2015, the focus of the campaign is to improve the reading abilities of all South African children, while the main aim is to ensure that all learners are able to demonstrate age appropriate levels of reading by 2019.

So Twitter was left confused and utterly dumbstruck when Mhlanga posted an image of a woman sitting on a couch "reading" a book with the #ReadtoLead hashtag. 

"Reading for leisure is also therapeutic. It relaxes the mind, body and soul," he tweeted. 

Granted, it's an innocent enough post, but the accompanying image left a bitter taste in the mouth. Dressed in what appears to be a body suit, and with her breasts suggestively on show, you'd be mistaken for thinking the post had nothing to do with promoting reading among SA's youth.

Degrading and obviously unnecessary, many were taken aback. Even Debbie Schafer, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, waded into the debate.


Some even called for Mhlanga to remove the picture, while others branded it inappropriate.