SA minister suspended for lunch with a friend during lockdown

South Africans have been called on to stay at home during the lockdown [Photo: Courtesy]

South Africa’s communications minister has been suspended for two months – one of which will be without pay - for having lunch with a friend during coronavirus lockdown.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been the talk of the town since a photograph of her eating with Mduduzi Manana surfaced this week.

The image, which shows the two enjoying a meal at a table with four of Mr Manana’s family members, was posted on one of his social media accounts and has been re-posted by others many times.

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South Africans have been called on to stay at home during the lockdown – now in its second week – and only go out and about for essential trips, such as work, to buy food or to seek medical care.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement on Wednesday that he was “unmoved” by the reasons she gave for being there.

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

The president added that “no one is above the law”. Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams has apologised, saying she was “deeply sorry” for her actions. “I hope the president and South Africans will find it in their hearts to forgive me,” she added.

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Earlier, Mr Manana, a former deputy minister, said the visit was work-related. He said she went to his house to collect face masks that he was donating through his foundation to help in the fight against Covid-19.


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