South Africa's Deputy Education Minister Mduduzi Manana has appeared in court on a charge of assaulting a woman in a nightclub.
He was freed on $375 (£290) bail, pending further investigations.
The alleged assault caused outrage in South Africa, with many people demanding Mr Manana's arrest.
He has apologised for what he called a "shameful incident", saying that he had been provoked but he should have "exercised restraint".
Mr Manana is alleged to have assaulted the woman during a row at the Cubana nightclub near the main city, Johannesburg, last Saturday.
Journalists were not allowed inside the courtroom and he was escorted through a separate entrance to avoid the media.
This is not common practice and will fuel claims that Mr Manana is receiving preferential treatment because he is a senior member of the government, the BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says.
South Africa's Police Minister Fikile Mbalula denied Mr Manana would be treated differently from other defendants.
"The deputy minister will not be treated with special kid gloves but will face the full wrath of the law. The state fully supports the victim," he said, at a news conference.