President Kgalema Motlanthe plans to refer the claims of illicit affairs made against him to the Press Ombudsman, rather than take legal action, according to a report in The Times.

The report in The Times reads:

President Kgalema Motlanthe has spoken out for the first time on claims by a woman that she is carrying his child and that he has begged her to marry him.The woman made the claims over the past two weeks before recanting them in an interview in the Sunday Independent, which first carried the story.

At a briefing at his Tuynhuys home in Cape Town yesterday, Motlanthe said: “I think I have more than enough on my plate to be dealing with that.”

He said he would take the matter further using other channels.

“I … will drop a line to the Press Ombudsman — he has the time, authority and responsibility to look into those kinds of indiscretions.”

It was reported yesterday that Kelebogile Mmokwa, the 24-year- old who made the claim, had withdrawn it, saying she deliberately lied.

The confession drew condemnation from the ruling party, which slammed the media organisations that had published her allegations.

ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus yesterday called the allegations “an indication of how low some media organisations are prepared to stoop in the name of public interest”.

Yesterday, the Sunday Independent ran an article in which Mmokwa said her story was a fabrication. Asked why she had lied, she reportedly said: “I told you what you wanted to hear.”

“[This] is a clear demonstration of how glibly media accept information as facts if it goes to satisfy the agenda of some newspaper editors and owners,” said Niehaus. “Not only is this practice unethical but it goes to show a lack of objectivity, bias and an intent to harm the good image of respected leaders of the calibre of Kgalema Motlanthe.

“The ANC deplores this practice, which gives journalism a bad name,” said Niehaus.

He called for an investigation by the Press Ombudsman and the SA National Editors’ Forum.

Click here to read the full report, posted on The Times's website.