Communications Minister pleads guilty to breaking lockdown rule

South Africa’s Communications Minister, Stella Ndabeni, has admitted to failing to adhere to the lockdown rule announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The sector minister had to pay a fine of 1,000 rands ($52) fine as ordered by the senior magistrate in the Tshwane District court.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Phindi Mjonondwane said the minister’s court case proved that all citizens were equal and no-one should break the law.

Days into the lockdown meant to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, the minister was pictured at a former colleague’s house having lunch.

The minister was then summoned by President Cyril Ramaphosa and was placed on a two-month special leave.

She later apologised publicly for undermining lockdown rules.

South Africa’s coronavirus case count as of April 22, 2020, stood at 6, 635 with 65 deaths and 1,055 recovered patients.

South Africa declared a 21-day lockdown on March 27 after the government announced sweeping new measures to tackle the spread of the new coronavirus.

The lockdown measures, which are being enforced by a combined force of  72,000 police and the army, forbid South Africans from leaving their homes except to seek medicine or medical care, buy food and supplies or collect a social grant. The sale of alcohol and cigarettes is also prohibited.

SA's lockdown 'could last until August', claims new report

South Africa remains the most affected country in Africa by the pandemic, with more than 6,000 confirmed cases.

South Africa extended its nationwide lockdown for two weeks on April 16, but outlined a set of criteria for lifting restrictions, with coronavirus cases in the country so far avoiding the sharp trajectory seen in Europe and the U.S.

The country has conducted more than 83,000 tests so far, although this remains well below the target of 10,000-15,000 tests per day.

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