“You are correct I got too emotional in that family meeting I should have not used that term it’s unpleasant — I am sorry to those hurt,” Vavi tweeted.
The Sunday Independent reported that Vavi said he did not know what he was doing with that “nopatazana” (roughly translated from Xhosa as a woman of low morals).
He was speaking at a rally at his home township of Sada, outside Whittlesea, in the Eastern Cape, on Saturday.
Vavi told the newspaper he used the word nopatazana to mean “a girl”.
Vavi’s family spokesman John Dludlu did not want to comment on the matter on Monday.
Last month, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) announced that Vavi had been put on special leave pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing relating to the affair with the junior employee.
In July, the employee accused him of rape. He said he had a consensual affair with her. The woman subsequently withdrew a sexual harassment complaint against him.