Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has publicly apologised for having lunch at the home of former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana during the ongoing lockdown period.
The Minister issued a statement as well as a video on Wednesday conveying her apology as directed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
She said, “I regret the incident and I am deeply sorry for my actions. I hope the President and South Africans will find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
‘I’ll abide by special leave’
Ndabeni-Abrahams added, “The President has put me on a special leave with immediate effect. I undertake to abide by the conditions of the special leave.
“I take this opportunity to reiterate the President’s call for all of us to observe the lockdown rules. They are a necessary intervention to curb the spread of a virus that has devastated many nations.”
In a statement earlier on Wednesday, Ramaphosa announced that he had placed Ndabeni-Abrahams on a two-month special leave, one of which will be unpaid.
He said he had accepted the Minister’s apology during their meeting on Tuesday, but had been “unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered.”
‘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.”
The President also said the law should take its course regarding allegations that Ndabeni-Abrahams had violated the lockdown regulations.
On Tuesday, Manana attempted to defuse the controversy by claiming in a statement that Ndabeni-Abrahams was collecting personal protective equipment (PPE) at his home.
However, it appears this explanation failed to persuade Ramaphosa, who was facing pressure from opposition leaders and sections of the public to take strong action against the Minister.