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

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Reporter Lindsay Dentlinger was conducting interviews during the Budget Speech at the time of the incident.
Reporter Lindsay Dentlinger was conducting interviews during the Budget Speech at the time of the incident.
Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images
  • eNCA reporter Lindsay Dentlinger has apologised for the masks debacle.
  • She claimed she was not a racist as many were claiming.
  • Dentlinger promised to give eNCA space to conclude its investigation.

eNCA reporter Lindsay Dentlinger has apologised for the disrespect caused by the masks furore.

Dentlinger has been in the news after being accused of being a racist.

She was accused of interviewing white people without masks while asking black people to wear one.

Dentlinger has disputed the claims.

"I totally acknowledge the outrage and I apologise for the disrespect it has caused to people who don't deserve to be drawn into this."

She said she would give her employer space to conclude the investigation into the matter.

She said:

This debate has been on a premise that I am white because it is perceived that I am white. Does my apology need to change anyway if we correct the facts before I can make an apology?


"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 to not speaking to any black unless he is wearing a mask."

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

Dentlinger claimed the incidents were not isolated and said this happened between October 2020 and last week, in different locations.

"People don't want to hear that it was an oversight for me not to ask [FF Plus leader Pieter] Groenewald not to wear a mask. He was my first interviewee. Things are working differently in this time of Covid-19.

"Normally, I would have producers with me who would grab interviewees and make sure they are prepared for broadcast. Groenewald didn't have a mask on [him in person] before I started interviewing him.

"My gut instinct is to ask precise questions and get answers viewers want to hear. My first instinct was not check or to think that he was not wearing his mask," she said.

 

"Did I err in not following company policy in that moment? Yes, I did. When I turned around [UDM MP Nqabayomzi] Kwankwa was coming down the steps wearing his mask and that triggered me to ask him to [keep on] wearing his mask. I was acting as a journalist first."

Dentlinger added she did not ask Kwankwa to wear a mask because of the colour of his skin.

"I acknowledge the outraged and I called Kwankwa and [IFP MP Mkhuleko] Hlengwa and apologised to them. I didn't mean to disrespect them. I have been called out to acknowledge my unconscious bias. What about the unconscious bias of people who have based this entire furore on the fact that they perceived me to [be] white and therefore I was acting in a racist manner.

"The bias goes all ways. I totally acknowledge it is outrageous and the outrage it has caused and what it looked like," she said. 

eNCA's managing director, Norman Munzhelele, said the company did not exist in a vacuum, but existed in a society and had to contribute towards building this country.

"We had to look at all the facts and be able to make a determination. We are not being defensive. We are accountable to the people and accountable to our audience. The statement [issued earlier] could have been better. We could have finalised our investigation quicker and be able to issue a statement.

"I take accountability. It is a lesson and we will do better next time. It is unfortunate that Sanef has not called me to deal with this issue. I will reach out to Sanef and will have a discussion about what happened and take it from there," Munzhelele added.

Meanwhile, the UDM is taking the matter to the SA Human Rights Commission and the IFP has refused to being interviewed by eNCA and has escalated the matter to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA.

ANC members are expected to protest outside eNCA offices on Wednesday. 

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