Journalist Barry Bateman pulled from air after expletive aimed at Malema, EFF rejects apology

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Photo by Gallo Images/Felix Dlangamandla

Broadcaster Eyewitness News has apologised to EFF leader Julius Malema for the foul language used by its senior journalist, Barry Bateman on Tuesday. The EFF however has rejected the apology, calling it "lukewarm".

"Bateman was caught on camera using derogatory words while in conversation with another reporter following an impromptu press briefing by Malema outside the Hawks' offices on Tuesday," the broadcaster said in a statement.

The video has been shared widely on social media and Bateman's name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday.

"As EWN, we demand that our reporters abide by the same high standards that we expect from others."

The broadcaster said Bateman was taken off air immediately after it was made aware of the video and will hold an internal probe that would deal with the matter appropriately.

Malema was addressing the media following a meeting with the Hawks on Tuesday, where he was scheduled to deliver a warning statement.

The warning statement relates to charges stemming from allegations that he discharged a firearm at a rally in East London.

He told journalists that charges against him were politically motivated, challenging the Hawks to make sound decisions when charging him.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the charges would be finalised next week. 

Malema is also facing charges of aggravated assault in a separate matter after footage was released of him and party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi allegedly in an altercation with a police officer at the funeral of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

Reacting to the charges, Malema said he would never apologise to the white man who refused him entry to the grave site of Madikizela-Mandela.

"When I came out of the car I said to him 'Chief what are you doing now?' with the hope that the guy will recognise me, and he says 'no, you are not going to enter here. A big, white Afrikaner male stopping me from burying Winnie Mandela. I had to be next to the coffin and no white man was going to stop me, if that means I must go to prison let it be. No one was going to stop me from burying Winnie Mandela, it was not going to happen," Malema said.

Bateman then asked: "So you did attack him?" 

To which Malema responded, facing Bateman directly: "If that is an attack, take it! It is. Take it! For Winnie I will do everything, I did that when she was alive, I will do that even now."

When asked by Bateman if the footage of Malema assaulting the man was indeed correct, Malema responded saying: "I wish I did that, I wish I assaulted him. Now that it's a real issue, I wish I did the real thing, proper. I regret not doing it. So that I deal with real stuff. Me, I'm not scared boet, uniform or no uniform. Afrikaner or no Afrikaner. White or pink, I deal with you decisively."

As Malema walked away from the journalists gathered around him, Bateman then used the expletive while speaking to one of the journalists.

The EFF said EWN should suspend Bateman.

"We have long warned that journalists are responsible for the toxic environment that EFF has to operate in, within the media generally. One must simple imagine what would have happened had the EFF responded to Bateman on the scene of his naked provocation. It is obvious that many would blame the EFF for being intolerant of the media and suppressing media freedom," said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi in the statement. 

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