EFF's Shivambu regrets attack on journalist

Johannesburg – EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu apologised for his attack on a journalist outside Parliament on Tuesday morning, accepting that his behaviour was "inappropriate".

Shivambu was caught on camera on Tuesday morning with his hand around the throat of Netwerk24 journalist Adrian de Kock.

Shivambu acknowledged that the "scuffle" happened but said it "was never an assault on the journalist or media freedom".

"I regret the incident and believe it should have been handled differently. I take full responsibility and apologise for engaging in a scuffle with a person I discovered after the incident is a journalist," he said in a statement.

"Whilst I was in a hurry to attend the committee meeting, I accept that my impatience with the gentleman was inappropriate."

Shivambu said he would write an official apology on the incident.

"The EFF, which I represent in Parliament and deputy president of, upholds media freedom, and freedom of association. As a loyal member of the EFF, I fully uphold media freedom and freedom of association, and the scuffle was not meant to suppress these constitutional principles," he said.

"I will not do media interviews concerning the incident because I believe there are important other issues to speak about in the public discourse, than a scuffle."

The office of the ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu, said the incident was "regrettable and completely unacceptable".

"As parliamentarians, we must at all times be the custodians of our Constitution and our democracy, especially media freedom and freedom of expression. Any journalist working on the parliamentary precinct must be allowed to do their job without any fear of victimisation or hindrance to their work," said Mthembu's spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli.

"We call on the Speaker of Parliament to thoroughly investigate this incident and impose the appropriate sanction for such unbecoming behaviour."

This is not the first time that Shivambu was in the spotlight for his treatment of journalists. In 2016 he was accused of calling an ANN7 journalist a "Gupta agent".

"You're not a journalist, you're a Gupta agent," he reportedly said at the time.

In 2012, while still the ANC Youth League spokesperson, he had to apologise after calling a journalist a "white bitch".

In 2013, the South Gauteng High Court in Johanneburg ordered Shivambu to apologise for remarks to Saturday Star news editor Kashiefa Ajam that she was a "drunkard".

The remark was made in 2010 after Ajam wrote an article which claimed there were links between the youth league and alcohol brands.

The court ordered Shivambu and the ANC Youth League to apologise, and if they failed to do that, they would have to pay Ajam and Independent Newspapers R175 000 each.

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