eNCA must take action - ANC Western Cape pickets outside news channel's Cape Town office

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Members of the ANC in the Western Cape protest outside eNCA's Cape Town office. (Supplied)
Members of the ANC in the Western Cape protest outside eNCA's Cape Town office. (Supplied)
  • eNCA journalist Lindsay Dentlinger has faced claims of racism after edited video clips of her telling black politicians to put their masks on, but not doing so when interacting with white politicians went viral last week.
  • Several political parties, including the UDM, EFF and IFP, have commented on the matter.
  • On Monday night, Dentlinger went on air on the news channel and apologised for the disrespect she showed those politicians involved.

A handful of members of the ANC in the Western Cape on Tuesday gathered on the steps of eNCA's Cape Town office, protesting against TV journalist Lindsay Dentlinger and accusing her of racism.

ANC Western Cape convenor Lerumo Kalako charged that Dentlinger had displayed "discrimination and a racist attitude" in Parliament following the Budget speech and had "forced only black MPs... to [put on] their masks" while allowing white parliamentarians to be interviewed without it.

Dentlinger, in an interview on the news channel on Monday night, said the recordings in a montage which went viral on social media, were made between October 2020 and last week, in different locations.

According to her, it was an oversight on her part not to ask FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald to wear a mask as he was her first interviewee and that he had not been wearing one before the interview.

She said she had erred in not following company policy at that time, but had been reminded when United Democratic Movement (UDM) parliamentarian Nqabayomzi Kwankwa was coming down the steps wearing his mask to ask him to keep it on.

OPINION | Lindsay Dentlinger saga: Was eNCA a little too quick to presume innocence?

Dentlinger said she had apologised to both Kwankwa and the IFP's Mkhuleko Hlengwa - another politician shown in the video clips - saying that she didn't mean to disrespect them and had been "called out to acknowledge my unconscious bias".

"I felt awful from how this is perceived and what the country believes to be a true reflection of who I am as a journalist. I do acknowledge how it is portrayed. I am being portrayed as not speaking to any black unless he is wearing a mask."

Last week, the DA's Geordin Hill-Lewis came out in defence of Dentlinger, tweeting a thread highlighting other politicians she had interviewed - he posted images on the thread showing her interviewing black politicians without masks on and one of himself where he says she had asked him to keep his mask on.

At the protest, Kalako said eNCA must "take action".

"We reject its flimsy justification and even the apology of the journalist itself is wishy-washy," he said.

eNCA management last week responded to the furore after meeting with Dentlinger, concluding that her conduct "was not racially motivated or with malicious intent".

In the interview on Monday, eNCA's managing director Norman Munzhelele said the company "had to look at all the facts and be able to make a determination".

He said the statement issued following the furore "could have been better" and that their investigation could have been finalised "quicker and be able to issue a statement".

The ANC planned "anti-racism pickets" across the country on Tuesday, with deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte leading the protest in Johannesburg.

READ HERE | 'I totally acknowledge the outrage' - eNCA journalist apologises for 'disrespect' after claims of racism

It issued a list of demands to eNCA, including that it withdraw the "offensive statement in which they defended Dentlinger"; that it issue an unconditional apology to all South Africans for the "pain and hurt that Dentlinger and eNCA have caused" and that the news channel send its journalists and management for human rights training to "learn the values of equality and non-racialism".

It gave the company two weeks to respond to its memorandum.

ALSO READ | eNCA says Lindsay Dentlinger's failure to ask interviewee to don a mask was not racist

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said eNCA "needs to reflect and reconsider its current position on the matter".

"There is racial discrimination when different rules and standards are applied to people who differ by race. Her failure to treat black politicians the same way as white politicians is racist and inexcusable," Pamla said.

"This country has a deep problem of racism and many people paid the ultimate price fighting white supremacy. Racists should not be overindulged if we are to eliminate this scourge."

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