eNCA anchor to return to air after two week suspension

Johannesburg - eNCA senior anchor Andrew Barnes has shown remorse for mocking Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga live on air and would return to his anchoring position following a two-week suspension, eNCA said on Monday.

"He has shown remorse for his conduct and the company has also accepted his internal apology. The nature of the sanction remains a matter between eNCA and Barnes. He has apologised on air and sent a letter of personal apology to the Minister," eNCA's head of corporate affairs, Vasili Vass, said on Monday.

Two weeks ago, Barnes mocked Motshekga's pronunciation of the word "epitome".

Barnes made the remark while the broadcaster aired extracts from Motshekga's speech that she delivered when announcing the results for the 2015 matric year the previous night.

After cutting back to Barnes at the end of the snippet, he said, "Maybe someone should have a word with the basic education minister about how to pronounce the word 'epitome'."

Barnes was criticised on social media for his actions and eNCA instituted disciplinary hearings against him, describing his comments as "insensitive, unnecessary and hurtful".

A day later, Barnes was no longer in his anchoring chair and the broadcaster instead ran a recorded apology by him to the minister.

'Caused a lot of hurt'

"I am grateful for this opportunity to apologise for the comment I made on News Day on Wednesday afternoon. I made fun of the education minister's pronunciation of the word 'epitome'.

"I realise now that that comment caused a lot of hurt and in fact was ultimately unfair and insensitive. To those of you at home and Minister Motshekga, I am sorry," Barnes said in his public apology.

Vass said Barnes accepted his punishment from the broadcaster.

"He co-operated fully and has been sanctioned. To date he has been a model employee without any previous transgressions," said Vass.

"In this instance we are confident that the matter was dealt with quickly, seriously and appropriately."

eNCA said it remained committed to fair and accurate commentary and would not hesitate to take action against any of their employees who failed to meet the required standards.

Barnes was expected back on air on Wednesday.

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