Cops might also go for Ndabeni-Abrahams after klap by Cyril

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Cops might also go for Ndabeni-Abrahams after klap by Cyril

The minister's woes are far from over if the law takes its course over her lockdown-lunch violation

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has put communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on leave and docked her pay.
No longer smiling President Cyril Ramaphosa has put communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on leave and docked her pay.
Image: Gallo Images/Phill Magakoe

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams may be liable for a fine up to R5,000 if police pursue her for violating lockdown regulations.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was put on two months’ special leave on Wednesday, and docked a month’s salary, by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who sanctioned her for violating lockdown conditions.

Ndabeni-Abrahams was seen in an Instagram post having a meal at former higher education minister Mduduzi Manana’s home on Sunday.

In an apology video on Wednesday, the minister admitted that she violated lockdown regulations: “I would convey an apology to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the national command centre, the South African society at large for breeching lockdown rules put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.”

Police minister Bheki Cele said at the weekend that more than 17,000 people had been arrested for violations of the 21-day lockdown. According to the regulations drafted for Gauteng, an admission of guilt by a first-time offender could lead to a fine of R5,000.

The EFF, DA and other political formations had called for Ndabeni-Abrahams to be treated with the same might of the law that is used against others who have violated the government’s lockdown to curb the virus.

“We call on the minister of police and SAPS to take the same action they have done with ordinary citizens who violated the regulations,” the EFF said. “The two-month censure imposed on the minister for breaching the lockdown is nonsensical, and suggests that ministers and members of the executive must be treated as if they are above the law.”

Ramaphosa appeared to not rule out that the law could still take its course despite his action against the minister. “As to allegations that the minister violated the lockdown regulations, the law should take its course,” Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said on Wednesday morning.

Ramaphosa had summoned Ndabeni-Abrahams on Tuesday and expressed his disapproval of her actions.

“The president accepted the minister’s apology for the violation but was unmoved by mitigating factors she tendered,” Diko said.

She must be removed from cabinet if the integrity of this national lockdown is to be maintained and the rule of law is to be taken seriously.
Vuyani Pambo, EFF

Ndabeni- Abrahams said she had undertaken to abide by the conditions of the special leave.

“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,” she said.

Manana posted the picture on Instagram on Sunday showing him, Ndabeni-Abrahams and four others posing while eating. “It was great to host a former colleague and dear sister Cde Stella Ndabeni-Abrahms (minister of communications and digital technologies) on her way back from executing critical and essential services required for the effective functioning of our country during the nationwide lockdown,” he captioned the now-deleted post.

DA communication spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said they were very worried that Ndabeni-Abrahams’s actions may result in disobedience of the order to stay at home.

“Should President Ramaphosa not lay the criminal complaint, he should at the very least address the nation together with the minister of police and the national police commissioner to assure the nation that SAPS will indeed act against Ndabeni-Abrahams,” she said.

The EFF’s Vuyani Pambo said that in addition to criminal charges, Ndabeni-Abrahams must be removed from government.

She “must be removed from cabinet if the integrity of this national lockdown is to be maintained and the rule of law is to be taken seriously. There is no logical explanation for her to be treated with kid gloves while the masses of our people are subjected to the full might of the law.”

The ANC said it fully supported and welcomed Ramaphosa’s decision to put Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months and to dock a month’s salary.

“The ANC calls on all its deployees and the rest of society to respect and abide by the letter and spirit of all lockdown regulations in order to effectively disrupt the chain of transmission occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic,” spokesperson Pule Mabe said. 

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