The man in the picture is washing himself from a bucket and is photographed by a young woman on a bed who may also be unclothed.
A clickbait website on Tuesday broke the story that the image was shared on the Facebook profile of a young student reportedly named “Dimpho Kelly”, whom they described as Nzimande’s “Blessee” at Wits university.
They claimed that she shared the story with a caption about how she was disgusted at the minister’s attitude towards the #FeesMustFall movement, and she decided to take the picture out of revenge.
Unfortunately, the image is of low quality and may have been photoshopped or simply be a clever trick using someone who bears more than a passing resemblance to the minister.
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A perusal of the other news articles on the website would also suggest that anything it publishes would need to be taken with a very large pinch of salt. At a certain point, the website also suddenly stopped working on Wednesday.
Before becoming aware of the already published article, The Citizen was sent the same photo by someone claiming to be a friend of Nzimande’s “lover”, and that she was in fact a 24-year-old student from the University of KwaZulu-Natal who had taken the picture as “insurance”, but she did not intend for it to leak.
All of this, however, raises questions about authenticity.
When contacted for comment, the media liaison officer for the department of higher education, Busiswa Gqangeni, said she was not aware of any rumours of an affair or a photograph of the minister, and advised us to call government communications.
We sent the photo and an explanation of what it supposedly was to the GCIS’s deputy director-general of content processing and dissemination Harold Maloka. He said, though, that just by looking at the photo it was obviously not the minister and he said that in his opinion it was not worth a story.
Nzimande is a married man with at least one child born to Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande, who was retrenched from the SABC in 2011 for nearly R2 million.