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Ndabeni-Abrahams asks for forgiveness in apology

The apology comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed the minister on special leave for two months, one of which will be unpaid, for breaching the lockdown regulations.

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at a media briefing on the coronavirus on 25 March 2020 in Pretoria. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has asked for forgiveness after admitting to breaching government’s lockdown regulations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months, one of which will be unpaid.

On Sunday she was photographed having lunch with ANC MP Mduduzi Manana and other people at his home, disregarding social distancing rules.

"I regret the incident and am deeply sorry for my actions. I hope that the president and you South Africans will find it in your hearts to forgive me. The president has put me on special leave. I undertake to abide by the conditions of the leave."

WATCH: Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' apology

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams' lapse of judgement has cost her.

And now she’s trying to make amends by apologising for her actions.

In a video recording, Ndabeni-Abrahams admits to breaking the lockdown regulations by having lunch with a group of people at the invitation of Manana.

Her actions drew the ire of many South Africans and she's now been taken to task by the president.

Not only will she be placed on special leave for two months, but she will also forfeit her salary for one of those.

PRESIDENTIAL ACTION

In announcing his decision, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his disapproval of the minister's actions, saying that her actions undermined the requirement that all citizens stay at home during the lockdown. He accepted Ndabeni-Abrahams' apology for the violation but was unmoved by the mitigating factors she tendered.

"The nation-wide 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," the president said in a 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. I am satisfied that Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams appreciates the seriousness of what she has done and that no-one is above the law."

The Presidency said that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu would act as Communications Minister during Ndabeni-Abrahams' absence.

MANANA CLARIFICATION

After the image of the minister went viral, Manana, who deleted the image from his social media accounts, moved to clarify the reason for Ndabeni-Abrahams' visit.

In his statement, Manana said the minister was on her way to meet with a group of students when he offered to donate personal protective equipment to those students.

"The minister relayed to me that the students are in need of PPEs, which my foundation has been handing over to marginalised communities. I then asked the minister to pass by my private residence to collect the material, which she gladly did."

He said when the Ndabeni-Abrahams arrived, his family was having lunch, and he invited her to join them, to which she agreed, which is when the picture was taken.

“She then collected the material and headed to her next assignment. She took the first batch for the Fourways students and indicated that the next visit will be tomorrow (08 April 2020) at the Menlyn site, which our team will be delivering.”

He admitted to being irresponsible in posting the picture without context in a time where the country was using the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus and said his family would remain housebound.

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