Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Lulama Xingwana is suing the Mail & Guardian for R1-million for defamation, writes Yolandi Groenewald in the Mail & Guardian.

The suit comes after the paper reported on March 20 that Xingwana was herself being sued for R1-million for her alleged role in breaking up a marriage between former Land Bank CEO Phil Mohlahlane and his wife, Joyce.

Mohlahlane has been repeatedly named in controversies surrounding the Land Bank, including irregularities relating to his identity documents.

Citing the court papers filed in the divorce action in the Johannesburg High Court, the article quoted Joyce Mohlahlane's claim that Xingwana gave her estranged husband "undue privileges" including overseas trips and "positions of undue power".

Mohlahlane also alleged that Xingwana used her position as a minister to protect and give immunity to her husband for the "various frauds and acts of misconduct he has committed at his place of work".

These, according to her affidavit, included the use of a cancelled identity document, irregular awarding of tenders at the Land Bank, the falsification of information on his CV and mismanagement.

Mohlahlane, the former deputy director general of agriculture, was appointed in July last year by Xingwana in what was seen as a move to help the embattled bank. However, his appointment was questioned in December when it came to light that he had two identity documents with different numbers and birth dates.

More controversy erupted at the beginning of the year when he was accused of sexual harassment at the bank.

Xingwana denied any affair. Her spokesperson said there was an attempt to discredit Xingwana and Mohlahlane. In a three-page press release, she also later rejected the claims as absurd, unfounded and malicious.

Click here to read the full report, posted on M&G Online.