Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has given the Sunday Times twenty-four hours, to hand over all records concerning her hospitalization, writes Bate Felix.
In a statement issued on Monday, the minister demanded that South Africa's largest circulating Sunday paper hand over her medial records following a story it carried on its front page titled "MANTO'S HOSPITAL BOOZE BINGE," relating to her hospitalisation and treatment at a Cape Town hospital.

The Newspaper reported that; "In 2005, while at the Cape Town Medi-Clinic in Hof Street for a shoulder operation, the minister's behaviour towards staff was described as "appalling" and "putrid" and unbecoming of the national Minister of Health.

The report also said; "Red wine and whisky were smuggled into the minister's Minister private hospital room in a blue bag before and after she underwent surgery".

Tshabalala-Msimang characterised the newspaper report as false, malicious and in contravention of the law.

"The allegations in the report are clearly defamatory and represent as they do the latest instance of that particular newspaper's deep-seated contempt for the Minister's rights to human dignity and privacy," said the health minister.

"Many of the allegations and insinuations are so bizarre, scandalous, speculative and incredible that the Minister does not wish to dignify them with a response," she added.

Tshabalala-Msimang said, "It is disturbing that the Sunday Times is, admittedly, in possession of the confidential medical records of the Minister, which constitutes an offence in terms of s 17 of the National Health Act (Act No 61 of 2003)".

The Minister called on the Sunday Times to "within twenty-four hours hand over to her all records concerning her hospitalisation, medical treatment and condition – including the notes containing such information as well as the comments of various "doctors" in respect of such hospitalisation, treatment and condition".

"A letter of demand in this regard has been sent to the Sunday Times by the minister's attorneys today," said Tshabalala-Msimang.

Asked for comments, Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya said they had not receive the minister's letter because they were not working on Monday. However, he said they would be responding to it as soon as they receive it.