Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has apologised for referring to Eastern Cape pupils who flocked to her province for a better education as "refugees", it was reported on Tuesday.
"Very sorry because it was never meant in that context at all, and it was never said in that way at all," she was quoted as saying in the Cape Times.
"What I was trying to show up was what [Basic] Education Minister Angie Motshekga calls a 'horror story' of education in much of the Eastern Cape."
Her apology on SABC TV on Sunday evening followed her use of the term on social networking site Twitter last month. Her statement was in reference to a protest in Grabouw over overcrowding at a local school.
African National Congress secretary Songezo Mjongile told the newspaper her apology was not heartfelt.
"Her apology is not genuine. It's a political stunt."