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Too late to apologise - EFF opens criminal case against Ndabeni-Abrahams

President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months, one of which will be unpaid, for breaking the rules of the government's lockdown.

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

JOHANNESBURG – There have been mixed reactions by political parties to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suspension of Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Wednesday.

Ndabeni-Abrahams has been suspended for two months, with one month without pay, after a picture of her surfaced on social media visiting former deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana during the lockdown.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has responded by opening a criminal case against her for breaking the national disaster regulations, while the African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed the President’s decision.

However, despite the apology by the minister, parties want more action to be taken against her for violating the lockdown regulations.

The EFF'S Delisile Ngwenya wants her gone.

“Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams 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.”

On the other hand, the ANC has welcomed Ramaphosa's decision and warned its members not to emulate Ndabeni- Abrahams behaviour.

'DAMAGE ALREADY DONE'

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the president's announcement that he had censured the communications ministers was better than nothing.

On Wednesday, the party said it noted the minister's apology but added it was a little too late and the damage had already been done.

The President acted quickly in placing the minister on special leave for two months, one of which will be unpaid.

But the DA's Phumzile van Damme said they were worried her actions may result in disobedience by the public.

She said should the president fail to lay a criminal complaint against the minister, he should at least assure the nation the police would act.

“We believe that the President should be the one to lay a criminal complaint against Ndabeni-Abrahams in order to send a message that it is important to stay home, and any lawlessness will not be tolerated.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said this was not the time for double standards and welcomed the president's "swift intervention" in reprimanding the wayward minister.

TOO LATE TO APOLOGISE?

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

"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's apology for breaking lockdown regulations

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque