South Africa’s Police Minister, Bheki Cele, has ordered an investigation into the alleged conduct of the head of Mpumalanga province who was seen at a funeral on Sunday violating the country’s restrictions on face mask use.

Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane said she was not aware that her mask fell off when she stepped out of her vehicle, public broadcaster SABC reports.

But the police minister said he is “concerned” about the incident as wearing of face masks in public is “a non-negotiable”.

“I have spoken to the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole to look into the matter of the Premier and an investigation must be conducted and necessary action must be taken.” Mr Cele said in a statement.

Ms Mtsweni-Tsipane was seen walking some distance and hugging officials without wearing a face mask at the funeral of the Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu.

Wearing of a mask in public was made mandatory under Level 3 lockdown regulations.

South Africa is the country worst-hit by the pandemic in Africa.

The country has seen a surge in cases since a new variant was identified in the country in November.