By Gill Gifford and Sheena Adams

The Sunday Times has lashed out at Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, repeating its contention that she is an alcoholic, abused her power and "ought not to have been given a liver transplant".

This is contained in the answering affidavit the newspaper filed with the Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday.

On Friday, the health minister asked for an interdict restraining the paper from publishing any further stories or "comments" about her medical condition and wants the paper punished, with a hefty legal bill, for the claims it has published so far.

In its response, the Sunday Times remains unapologetic, claiming that "all such comment, so far, has been in the public interest".

Susan Smuts, deputy managing editor of the Sunday Times, says in the affidavit that the extent to which "alcohol abuse" may have affected Tshabalala-Msimang's professional judgment was a matter of public interest.

In addition, the Sunday Times claims that the minister had a liver disease caused by excessive drinking before her liver transplant early this year raised serious questions of favouritism and preferential treatment that enabled her to receive a rare organ "ahead of other more deserving potential recipients".

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