President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on a two-month special leave, one of which will be unpaid.
In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the law should take its course regarding allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams had violated lockdown regulations.
A picture shared on social media on Saturday by former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana showed Ndabeni-Abrahams having lunch with Manana and his family at his private residence.
Public apology to the nation
This sparked speculation that the Minister may have violated lockdown regulations, which prohibit people from leaving their homes unless it is for essential purposes.
Manana released a statement on Tuesday saying Ndabeni-Abrahams was collecting personal protective equipment (PPEs) for students working on COVID-19 digital services.
Ramaphosa summoned the Minister on Tuesday, after which he accepted her apology “but was unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered.”
He also reprimanded Ndabeni-Abrahams and directed her to issue a public apology to the nation on the matter.
‘No one is above the law’
Ramaphosa said, “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.
“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.”
Minister in The Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in Ndabeni-Abrahams’ position for the two-month period.
Ndabeni-Abrahams had not yet issued her public apology at the time of publishing this article.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) had earlier called on Ramaphosa to lay a criminal complaint against the Minister and to remove her from the Cabinet.