Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday called for absolute compliance with the national lockdown imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
“The nationwide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans. Members of the national executive carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are having to make great sacrifices,” said Ramaphosa.
“None of us – not least a member of the national executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation. I am satisfied that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no one is above the law.”
Ramaphosa on Wednesday placed Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months, one month of which will be unpaid, after a photograph of the minister emerged on social media showing her having lunch with friends despite the national lockdown.
“As to allegations that the minister violated the lockdown regulations, the law should take its course,” the Presidency said.
Concerned South Africans expressed shock and disappointment with Ndabeni-Abrahams’s possible violation of the stringent lockdown regulations aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus.
Former deputy minister of higher education Mduduzi Manana shared a photo of the two, along with others, having a meal at his home. The photo also showed Ndabeni-Abrahams, who Manana described as a friend, seated at the table and enjoying the meal.
The photo caption read: “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on her way back from executing critical and essential services.”
The photo was posted on Instagram and has since been deleted by Manana.
“The president summoned the minister yesterday (Tuesday). The president expressed his disapproval of the minister’s actions, which undermine the requirement that all citizens stay at home and save South Africa from the spread of the coronavirus,” said the Presidency.
Ramaphosa accepted Ndabeni-Abrahams’s apology for the violation but “was unmoved by mitigating factors” she tendered.
“President Ramaphosa has placed the minister on special leave for two months, during which Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams’s position,” said the Presidency.
Ramaphosa has reprimanded the minister and directed her to deliver a public apology to the nation.
South Africa is going through a 21-day national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. The country had at least 1,749 confirmed infections and total deaths are now at 13.
The lockdown is accompanied by a string of regulations that limit the movement of citizens, who are expected to stay at home unless they are shopping for food, seeking medical help or supplies, banking, buying petrol, collecting social grants, or performing essential services.
African News Agency/ANA
By Jonisayi Maromo