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S.Africa minister fined over lockdown lunch visit

South Africa’s communications minister has paid an “admission of guilt” fine for lunching at a friend’s house during lockdown, the national prosecuting authority said Wednesday.

Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was placed on special leave earlier this month for flouting a stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of coronavirus.

She was suspended after a picture posted on Instagram showed her having lunch at the home of a former deputy minister during the second week of lockdown — which came into force on March 27 and is set to run through to the end of April.

A statement from the National Prosecuting Authority said Ndabeni-Abrahams had paid an admission of guilt fine of 1,000 rand ($53) for failing to confine herself to her home.

Ndabeni-Abrahams has also been summoned to appear before a court next month.

The state alleges her lunch stop was “unlawful” under lockdown regulations, which only allow citizens to leave their homes for groceries, pharmaceuticals and medical appointments.

The minister issued a public apology shortly after President Cyril Ramaphosa placed her on a two-month leave.

To date South Africa has recorded 3,465 cases of coronavirus, making it the second worst-affected country on the continent after Egypt.

At least 58 people have died.