Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says she is unequivocally against any form of abuse of women.
"Don't be misled when I say there are those who are worse. I am in no way suggesting that anyone should be given free pass just because they have not killed their victim yet," she said on Tuesday, at the announcement of a new cellphone app to help victims of abuse.
The app was introduced by People Opposed to Women Abuse (Powa).
She was responding to the backlash that followed her statement about Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana's alleged assault of two women last weekend.
The Sunday Times quoted her as saying that she would not call for Manana's resignation because there were government officials worse than him, and that the assault charges against him were a "political tool".
Manana remains in his position despite allegedly assaulting two women at the Cubana nightclub in Fourways, Johannesburg, last weekend. He appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court on Thursday and was released on R5 000 bail. He faces two charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
Dlamini tried to explain herself before a panel discussion on gender-based violence got under way. The panel included Police Minister Fikile Mbalula and African National Congress (ANC) presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The country was full of men who abused women to the point of killing them, she said. However, there were worse cases. She cited the murder of Mpumalanga teacher Kate Chiloane, 30, on Monday.
A man believed to be her husband shot and killed her while she was on her way to her classroom, in the Sediba-Sa-Thuto Primary School, around 08:00. The man shot himself in the head later.
Dlamini said she wanted an apology from the Sunday Times for releasing the recording of the interview with her. The newspaper released the recording on Monday after the ANC Women's League accused the paper of "false reporting".
Dlamini said the newspaper did not tell her the conversation was being recorded. Nor did they ask for permission to release the recording. She criticised the media for "selective reporting".
"It is important for you guys to report all cases of abuse of all women. Don’t be selective. Noise must be made with same level of disgust consistently," she said.
"Women abuse must become taboo. It must be that no one feels that they can get away with it because they are friends with the media."
She accused newspapers of relegating positive stories about women to pages three or five, while putting stories intended to destroy women on the front page.