JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — In a case of TMI, the graphic details of South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula's sex life were spread over the front pages of this country's Sunday newspapers.
But rather than sparking calls for his resignation, the lurid reports drew support for Mbalula, with Twitter users in South Africa saying his sex life was "not news," and the ruling party's youth league praising his courage, as well as his "energy and oomph."
Mbalula, who is married, allegedly impregnated a 27-year-old model during a one-stand stand after they met at a party in Johannesburg, the Sunday World tabloid says. The woman then tried to extort money from him, according to reports.
The model declined to comment. But Mbalula, 40, admitted that he had a brief relationship with her, telling the newspaper:
"She has told me that she will go public and say I have not used a condom when I slept with her and that I was cheating on my wife with her," he said.
"The truth is that I used a condom with her, but it burst during sex."
Media reports of the affair then go into the lengthy deliberations of how to handle the burst condom. According to Mbalula, the woman had promised take a morning-after pill, but later told him she was pregnant and asked for R2,000 ($250) for an abortion — and then for R10,000 ($1,240), and then for R40,000 ($4,950).
Mbalula, who is a former leader of the ruling African National Congress party's youth league, apologized "to the South African society, to the African National Congress and the South African government."
"I have apologized to my family, particularly to my wife, as I should have known better," he said, the South African Press Association reports.
The ANC youth league on Monday released a statement saying it "accepts the apology of Comrade Fikile Mbalula!"
"The humility and courage of Comrade Fikile Mbalula to accept that he erred and publicly apologized to his family, the ANC and country should be celebrated," the youth league's statement said.
The statement also noted, apparently without irony, that "Comrade Mbalula gives energy and oomph to every responsibility assigned to him."
The Mail and Guardian newspaper says South African Twitter users were for the most part "enraged' by the reports about Mbalula's affair, "arguing that a politician's sex life was not news."
City Press says Mbalula "preaches safe sex and abstinence," and "had unprotected sex with the model on at least two occasions."