A picture of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande in the buff supposedly after a steamy session with a student is a malicious fake, the ministry said on Wednesday.
"It is very clear that it is not Minister Blade Nzimande who is in this image," said Harold Maloka, Nzimande's spokesperson.
"The ministry would like to categorically deny and reject this irresponsible and malicious attempt to link the minister to this image. The minister does not have a relationship with a student as alleged and the image is by no means of that of the minister."
The man in the picture is seen standing next to a bucket in a sparsely furnished room, while the bare legs of a someone with purple toenails are stretched out on the bed.
The picture was doing the rounds on social media as Nzimande deals with the fallout from the Fees Must Fall crisis.
According to a Twitter account, @LakheMvane which has Cape Town set as the owner's location, Nzimande had just had a steamy session with a student who then quizzed him on what he was going to do about the crisis at tertiary institutions.
"Blade Nzimande's blessee has leaded [sic] this picture HAHAHA!!!" a tweet accompanying the picture read.
The account biography comes with the disclaimer: "Just because it makes sense, does not make it true."
Fake looting image
Maloka said the man in the image was alleged to be having a relationship with a young girl, "which is an immoral act in our society that must be rejected by all".
The ministry called for responsible use of social media.
This is not the first fake picture to emerge from the university fees crisis. Africa Check reported on Wednesday that an image supposedly showing Johannesburg students wearing looted Puma T-shirts, had been photoshopped, and badly at that.
This was after a sports gear shop was looted in Braamfontein during student protests on Tuesday. The doctored image showed a group of students supposedly wearing the stolen T-shirts.
According to Africa Check, a Google reverse image search revealed that it had been photoshopped.
"Africa Check determined that the image was captured by Associated Press photographer Schalk van Zuydam on 4 October 2016. It shows students from the University of Cape Town attending a protest in the city. In the original image, the students' shirts do not bear the Puma logo."