South Africa's head of state has suspended the country's communication minister for breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules, the presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.
''President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on special leave for two months – one month of which will be unpaid,'' according to the communique.
Ramaphosa summoned Ndabeni-Abraham on Tuesday after her photo of having a meal with a former cabinet colleague was shared on social media.
“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.
“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 country is currently in its second week of a 21-day shutdown where only essential staff such as health workers, food producers, supermarkets, and telecommunications staff are allowed to leave home.
Ramaphosa also asked Ndabeni-Abrahams to deliver a public apology to the nation.
South Africa has 1,749 confirmed COVID-19 cases so far, with 13 deaths, and 95 recoveries, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Since the virus emerged last December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, it has spread to at least 184 countries and regions.
There are more than 1.44 million confirmed cases worldwide, with almost 83,000 deaths, and nearly 308,000 recoveries.
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