Cosatu's Zwelinzima Vavi has said sorry after it was reported that the suspended general secretary used the word "nopatazana".
Suspended Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi took to Twitter on Monday to apologise for a remark he made about the woman he had an affair with.
"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). "Andiyazi ngunopatazana endandimkhathalele ngantoni lo (I don’t know what I was doing with that nopatazana)."
He was speaking at a rally at his home township of Sada, outside Whittlesea, in the Eastern Cape, on Saturday.
Vavi told the newspaper the following day that he used the word "nopatazana" to mean "a girl".
Sexual harassment complaint
Vavi's family spokesperson John Dludlu did not want to comment on the matter on Monday.
Last month, 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.
Meanwhile, supporters of Vavi's reinstatement called for consistency in dealing with sexual indiscretion.
Vavi's supporters are now accusing his opponents in Cosatu’s leadership of selective morality by hiding "worse" sexual indiscretions of their own, including fathering children out of wedlock with junior staff.
Vavi's allies are expected to raise these potentially explosive allegations against at least two prominent unionists at Cosatu’s central executive meeting this week, which was supposed to be used to avoid a messy court battle between the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and other affiliates, a battle that began and was then postponed on Tuesday.
Vavi launched a separate urgent court application in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg last week to have his suspension lifted.
The pro-Vavi Numsa went to court last week to have him reinstated after his suspension at a special Cosatu leadership meeting on August 14.– Additional reporting by Matuma Letsoalo.