Former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has threatened to sue former radio journalist Redi Thlabi unless she withdraws allegations that a personal vendetta spurred his introduction of restrictive visa regulations three years ago.

Gigaba, in a tweet, said he was giving Thlabi until 5pm on Thursday to retract her comments, which she made after he announced the relaxation of the much-criticised regulations.

"She has until 17h00, tomorrow, to withdraw and apologise for her malicious lies, failing which she will have to start raising money for a hefty damages claim," the tweet posted on Gigaba's official account after 10 pm on Wednesday read.

This followed a tweet by the minister a few hours earlier in which he accused Thlabi, a former presenter on 702 Talk Radio, of pandering to racists.

"For the record, @RediTlhabi, I’m not bothered by your using my name to ingratiate yourself to the band of uninformed incorrigible racists you’ve made a career out of sucking up to. Victimise my daughter again, though, and you’ll discover that I’m capable of sinking to your level."

In 2015, Gigaba introduced visa regulations that required all minors to have an unabridged birth certificate, along with their passport, in order to pass customs. If they were not travelling with their parents, they needed written consent from the parents.

The rules caused an outcry from affected families and tourism bodies.

The Twitter row began when Tlhabi suggested that when Gigaba initially introduced the restrictions he was motivated by a tug of war with his ex-wife.

"Is it not true that you were LIVID when a cousin of your ex-wife travelled with your daughter Lerato, whilst your wife was in Cuba? Upon finding out, you laid charges of kidnapping..even though you knew your ex-wife's cousin very well & your daughter was quite happy with her?

"YOU had a personal issue of yr ex-wife making travel arrangements with yr daughter without your consent, so you decided "I'll sort this problem out?" You implemented untested regulations, claiming to address child trafficking? Have your regulations brought child trafficking down?"

On Wednesday night, responding to Gigaba's threat of a lawsuit, she tweeted that she considered herself "warned" but had not victimised Gigaba or his daughter.

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African News Agency (ANA)