Mineral Resources and Energy Department Minister Gwede Mantashe has denied bribing two journalists to squash a story about his alleged extramarital relationship.

According to a report published by the Sunday World, Mantashe allegedly admitted to paying two of its journalists R70 000 not to publish a news story about his alleged relationship with student Lerato Habiba Makgatho.

In a statement, the department says Mantashe is clear that no act of bribery occurred as has been reported in the media.

The ministry further says there was no verification of these allegations prior to the publication of the story.

It says Mantashe, both in his personal capacity and that of being the Executive Authority, believes in upholding the integrity of the media and media freedom.

Sunday World has launched an investigation into the matter.

Meanwhile, the South African National Editors’ Forum says it will soon write to Mantashe to request him to verify the story, saying if it’s true, he must identify the journalists.