Johannesburg - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says he was contacted by someone demanding R5 million for a video which was intercepted from his cellphone shortly after he was appointed finance minister.
Gigaba has suggested that the leaked video of him engaging in a sexual act was a political attempt to assassinate his character as the ANC compiles its list of MPs ahead of next year’s elections.
Gigaba’s tweets on Sunday laid bare his feelings on the leaked video and the extortion attempt.
He tweeted: “My wife and I have learnt, with regret and sadness, that a video containing material of a sexual nature, meant for our eyes only, which was stolen when my communication got illegally intercepted/my phone hacked, in 2016/17, is circulating among certain political figures
“I take this opportunity to publicly apologise, in advance, to the rest of my family - especially my kids, my mom and my in-laws - and the South African public for the pain and embarrassment the likely wider distribution of this private material will cause”
Gigaba is alone in the 13-second video in which the minister is seen playing with his penis with his hand while saying: “Imagine if this is in your mouth.”
Gigaba’s spin doctor Vuyo Mkhize said Gigaba was a victim of a smear campaign to discredit him politically.
Gigaba has turned to Mkhize’s company Kapital Mindz to respond to media queries.
Mkhize said Gigaba first told him about the video in May 2016, seeking his advice.
“The only thing that stands out is that the ANC is going through this list process but that is not to say (I am) categorically stating that is the motivation behind the sudden leaking of this,” he said.
Mkhize said the video was circulating among “political circles” within and outside the ANC.
He said Gigaba had been alerted on Saturday that the video would be released yesterday.
Mkhize said Gigaba first became aware that someone was in possession of the video soon after ex-president Jacob Zuma had appointed him finance minister last year.
“He started receiving anonymous calls from someone claiming to have this footage and that he had to pay R5million if he did not want the video to be released,” said Mkhize.
Mkhize said Gigaba reported the matter to the police, who didn't open a case because he couldn't identify the caller.
Mkhize said that when it became clear that Gigaba wasn't going to pay, the caller, an isiZulu-speaking man, said: “Let’s do a trade. I will identify opportunities in certain places, and you will have to facilitate them as a way of paying me to keep quiet.”
* Additional reporting by Kuben Chetty and Sthembiso Sithole