KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane, who is accused of hosting “a Covid-19 super-spreader” birthday celebration on Sunday, has apologised for her conduct.
Simelane said the “surprise birthday lunch” was organised at a private venue. While less than 50 people attended the party and observed social distancing protocols, Simelane conceded that she and other guests had not been wearing masks.
“There was a time during a brief musical performance where the guests stood up and danced, unfortunately without wearing their masks, as they were still in the process of eating.
“The MEC deeply regrets the failure by some of the attendees, including herself, at that time, to wear masks, during this short performance during dining,” the KZN health ministry said in a statement.
According to the statement, which said Simelane remained committed to the fight against Covid-19, she would soon be submitting a report on the incident to Premier Sihle Zikalala
DA KwaZulu-Natal chief whip, Zwakele Mncwango, who on Monday wrote to Zikalala requesting the Premier to take action against Simelane, said the health MEC’s conduct was unacceptable.
“Premier, if this is as claimed, a birthday celebration for the MEC, and, if you are serious about accountability, we strongly request that you take action against the MEC immediately.
“In this regard, we now call on you to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the MEC and to report back to the Premier portfolio committee within seven days from now,” he said.
Mncwango said video footage of Simelane’s birthday celebration event showed that the violations were more serious than what the health MEC had disclosed in her media statement.
“The footage shows a potential super-spreader event, with a room full of people partying and enjoying a celebration. There is no evidence of any masks being worn, no social distancing taking place and a large gathering of people in the same venue. Even more concerning is that the video shows a number of MPLs from the KZN Legislature.”
In June Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane, was charged after she was seen without a mask while attending the funeral of former minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu. Mtsweni-Tsipane eventually paid a R1 500 fine for the contravention of Covid-19 protocols.