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Singh resigns after sex scandal

South African minister Narend Singh resigns after newspapers splashed pictures of his extramarital affair.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 14:32 IST

South African Indian provincial government minister Narend Singh, who led several initiatives to improve ties with India, has resigned after newspapers here splashed pictures of him in a sex romp at a hotel with the wife of a prominent local businessman.

A steamy DVD of a tryst between Singh and Roseanne Narandas, a boutique owner and wife of well-known jeweller Bob Narandas, has been circulating for weeks now.

Earlier this week, Singh was adamant that it was a personal matter and that he would not step down as minister of arts, culture and tourism in KwaZulu-Natal province, where he has also served a term as education minister.

But late Tuesday Singh announced his departure from politics at a tearful meeting at his palatial home south of here, in what was also a show of support from his wife of 30 years, Manitha, daughter Keshika Singh, son-in-law Raveen Behari and son Shikar.

Although the provincial premier, S'bu Ndebele, had given Singh 10 days leave of absence while police investigate the motives behind the distribution of the DVD at schools and in private home post boxes, Singh announced his resignation but said he would remain a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) led by Zulu leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Singh said he found it "sad" that such a personal and private thing had become a "part of the public domain, in a way that is highly destructive and embarrassing".

Singh said he had resigned because of the huge strain on his family, which he said had been totally supportive.

"While serving the community is close to my heart, I am not prepared to sacrifice the pride and dignity of my family at the altar of blackmail and political backstabbing," Singh said.

Police are investigating alleged blackmail attempts after Singh was told that the DVD would be distributed publicly if he did not withdraw from a provincial and local government election that was held across South Africa March 1 this year.

Singh, who has visited India a number of times, has always been a firm supporter of mutual cooperation between the two countries. A devout Hindu, Singh has also visited a number of Hindu shrines in India, and said he had received support from the head of the Divine Life Society in South Africa, Swami Sahajananda, during his crisis.

Roseanne Narandas earlier rejected suggestions that she may have been instrumental in orchestrating the DVD after the national weekly Sunday Times printed extracts from the DVD with a report that Narandas had allegedly steered Singh towards the hidden camera.

Narandas, who also claimed that her husband and family were supporting her, said she would not do anything deliberately that would embarrass her family, which is also a prominent one here.

Although Singh claimed he had been forced to resign because his private life had been made public, supporters of the Moral Regeneration Campaign in South Africa have welcomed his move, saying as a minister of state, he had a duty to set an example.

First Published: Mar 22, 2006 14:32 IST