Cape Town - While the anti-masker protester who was arrested by police after assaulting eNCA journalist Monique Mortlock will be undergoing an assessment, the broadcast company has condemned the assault.
Craig Peiser, head organiser of the We Are More (W.A.M) movement, appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
On Saturday, W.A.M protesters took to Fish Hoek Beach to protest against the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Tensions rose as some protesters allegedly assaulted two journalists on the scene, and hindered them from carrying out their work - because they were wearing masks.
Peiser refused to speak to Mortlock because she was wearing a mask. He allegedly grabbed hold of her mask and allowed it to snap back on to her face and allegedly swore at her.
Mortlock posted about the assault on Twitter stating: “The head organiser approached us and asked us if we are from the media, and we said, yes, we’d like to interview you. He then said he can’t hear me. I spoke louder.
“He then said he can’t speak to people who wear masks. We told him that it is the law, we have to wear masks. He goes on to pull my mask, from my face, and rips it off.
“I am completely shocked. Police officers are around, law enforcement is around, some kind residents from Fish Hoek were also around here to shout at him, and basically to tell him ’you can’t do this’. I cried cause it was unexpected.”
We are on Fish Hoek Beach to cover the #WeAreMore protest against lockdown. But one of the organisers just assaulted me, even with officers around us. He refuses to speak to me because I'm wearing a mask. @eNCA pic.twitter.com/BYx991Qmd0— Monique Mortlock (@MoniqueMortlock) February 6, 2021
The managing editor for eNCA, John Bailey, said: “Concerning the violation that Monique experienced, as a company we at eNCA strongly condemn any acts of gender-based violence. Monique has our full support in dealing with this matter and we’ll keep a close eye on the developments around this case.”
The accused exhibited similar behaviour in court by rambling and yelling, which resulted in the magistrate remanding him in custody.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said: “The magistrate has kept the accused in custody and referred him to the district surgeon for assessment/observation for possible referral for mental observation due to his conduct in court.”
Peiser will be held at Pollsmoor Prison until his next court date tomorrow (February 10).
Prior to his appearance, the suspect addressed the media outside the court where he apologised to Mortlock and said that he did not intend to offend, assault or insult her.