Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has said she is “delighted” to be back at work after being on special leave for two months.
President Cyril Ramaphosa placed her on leave in April after she was pictured having lunch at former deputy minister Mduduzi Manana’s private residence. This was in violation of lockdown regulations.
In a letter to staff members this week, she said, “I am delighted to be back and looking forward to working with each and every one of you to drive the mandate of the Department.”
‘Time to reflect’
The Minister added that the two months she was away had given her time to reflect on her “personal journey” as well as the “exciting work that still lies ahead of us.”
She said, “I am immensely proud of the hard work that you have put in over the past few months, especially during my absence.
“Your commitment to our cause as a Department has made a great difference, and together I have no doubt that we will weather this crisis and emerge stronger, more agile and more focused on attaining our goals as a Department.”
Ndabeni-Abrahams also thanked Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, who acted as Communications Minister when she was away, as well as Deputy Minister Pinky Kekana and the Department’s Director-General.
Besides serving the special leave and losing one month’s salary, Ndabeni-Abrahams was also charged for contravening the national state of disaster regulations.
The National Prosecuting Authority subsequently announced that she had paid a R1,000 admission-of-guilt fine, which meant that she did not have to appear in court.
Ramaphosa criticised Ndabeni-Abrahams in a statement and 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.”
Following Ramaphosa’s directives, Ndabeni-Abrahams issued written and video apologies in which she expressed regret for her actions and asked for forgiveness.
She said, “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.”