President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has placed the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, on a two-month special leave after she violated lockdown regulations, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

Of Ndabeni-Abrahams’ two months special leave, one month will be unpaid, the Presidency said in a statement.

“As to allegations that the minister violated the lockdown regulations, the law should take its course,” presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

This followed the revelation on social media that the minister had recently visited the home of a friend who hosted a lunch, contrary to the lockdown regulations, Mr Diko said.

He said Mr Ramaphosa summoned the minister on Tuesday to express his disapproval of her actions, which undermine the requirement that all citizens stay at home and save the country from the spread of the coronavirus.

He also said the president accepted Mrs Ndabeni-Abrahams’ apology for the violation but was unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered.

Mr Diko added that the president has reprimanded the minister and directed her to deliver a public apology to the nation.

During Ndabeni-Abrahams’ special leave, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu will act in her position.

The nation-wide lockdown calls for absolute compliance on the part of all South Africans.

This must include members of the National Executive who carry a special responsibility in setting an example to South Africans, who are making great sacrifices, Mr Ramaphosa had said in the statement

“None of us – not least a member of the National Executive – should undermine our national effort to save lives in this very serious situation,” said Mr Ramaphosa.

The president said he was satisfied that Mrs Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no-one is above the law.

Since the 21-day lockdown took effect on midnight March 26, up to 20,000 people have been arrested across the country for violating the lockdown regulations.

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