UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said on Friday morning his party would be laying a complaint against TV news station eNCA to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over its supposed inconsistent behaviour in applying Covid-19 protocols during a recent live broadcast.
The news channel came under fire from social media users after its reporter, Lindsay Dentlinger, was accused of racism and unconscious bias when she asked UDM deputy president and MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa to wear his face mask during an interview on Wednesday outside the steps of Parliament following the budget speech.
The incident outraged the UDM and others using the hashtag #eNcaMustFall on Twitter after pointing out that prior to the interview, Dentlinger had spoken to FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald who did not have his mask on.
— Man’s NOT Barry Roux (@AdvoBarryRoux) February 25, 2021
The UDM then wrote a letter to eNCA’s managing editor John Baily on Thursday demanding an apology for the “racist” incident. In response, the broadcaster said it met with Dentlinger and concluded her conduct “was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”.
Holomisa has slammed eNCA’s response, saying it was a “slap in the face of any sober South African” who witnessed the incident.
“Instead of issuing an unreserved apology, eNCA chose to defend their and their journalist’s actions with insipid excuses,” Holomisa said in a statement. “Even the title of their statement is confounding, as it negates the crux of the matter, that the aggrieved party is Mr Kwankwa who was treated differently to his white colleagues. It adds further insult to injury that eNCA does not even have the courtesy to acknowledge Mr Kwankwa.”
Baily, in his letter, said Dentlinger was a seasoned journalist with more than 21 years of experience and she had interviewed many high-profile politicians without anyone calling her conduct into question.
“This incident represents an inaccurate and unfair image of her work,” he said. “In an intense live broadcast environment like the budget speech coverage, our journalists are under pressure to remain compliant while delivering fair, accurate, and balanced news.
“The journalist had to contend with being live on air and taking producer instructions via her earpiece and unfortunately failed to request that the interviewee [Groenewald] wear a mask.
“Criticism to this extent levelled at a journalist under these circumstances is unfair and unfortunate. Comments and some video content that are currently being shared is maliciously misleading.”
Despite this, Holomisa said the arrogance of the channel was staggering, saying that its explanations for the incident were “feeble and unacceptable”.
“Whether or not eNCA or Ms Dentlinger likes it to hear it, they have gravely insulted and offended Mr Kwankwa, the UDM and countless black and white South Africans who noticed this racist incident,” he said.
Kwankwa said eNCA had “proven time and time again to be a bunch of arrogant racists” and vowed not to agree to be interviewed by the channel again.
You have proven time and time again to be a bunch of arrogant racists @eNCA. Take your airtime, your racism, your propaganda passed off as news and stuff it!! While my party follows due process dealing with you; my interviews with eNCA will be a thing of the past. @BantuHolomisa https://t.co/XJ4Tf1OMRZ
— Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP (@N_Kwankwa) February 25, 2021
Arrogance and racism, what a combination.
— Bantu Holomisa (@BantuHolomisa) February 26, 2021