After online news site AfricaNews 24-7 reported on Tuesday that Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Sdumo Dlamini was “fighting for his life in the intensive care unit of a Durban hospital after falling sick a few weeks ago”, it has now been confirmed that he is indeed in hospital.
The ministry of agriculture, land reform and rural development has confirmed that he was admitted with a “severe headache”, but they dispute the claim that Dlamini was, or even may have been, poisoned.
Spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo confirmed on Tuesday that they were” not aware of any poisoning incident”.
He confirmed that the 53-year-old Dlamini has been on sick leave.
The former president of labour federation Cosatu rose to prominence on the back of supporting Jacob Zuma’s rise to power in the ANC.
Ngcobo, the Mail & Guardian reports, said: “In consultation with the family and the visits we have had we are pleased to inform you that [Dlamini] is recuperating very well … the family and his doctors request privacy while they are attending to him.”
Dlamini became the deputy minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet in May this year. Cosatu had officially stopped supporting Zuma and threw its weight behind Ramaphosa, a former labour leader himself, to become the next president.
When The Citizen called the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (the way it is still listed online) for confirmation of the story, the head of the office, a certain Mr Cele, said they had “heard about” the story and would release a statement about it after a meeting.
He was, however, reluctant to make any sort of official comment about it.
When pressed about Dlamini’s welfare, Cele said that Dlamini “is okay”.
AfricaNews 24/7, which is owned by businessman Kenny Kunene and edited by former Sunday Independent editor Steve Motale, claimed they had sources close to the deputy minister who “suspect he could have been poisoned since he was a ‘very healthy’ man but mysteriously fell sick”.
The Mail & Guardian has subsequently reported that Cosatu members had expressed shock about the poisoning claims and had sent someone to his family to “find out what is going on”.
The ANC, in its post national executive committee meeting briefing, wished Dlamini well. The party hoped the cause of his illness was not poisoning.