Members of the ANC picket outsIde the eNCA studios in Stirling Street in District Six. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Members of the ANC picket outsIde the eNCA studios in Stirling Street in District Six. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

eNCA in firing line over alleged racist mask-up requests

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Mar 3, 2021

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Cape Town - The ANC led an anti-racism protest outside news channel eNCA’s offices in Zonnebloem, following alleged discrimination and racism by eNCA reporter Lindsay Dentlinger.

A montage of video clips circulated on social media last week of Dentlinger interviewing politicians and repeatedly asking black interviewees either to keep their masks on or to put them on before proceeding with the interview, while white interviewees without a mask or who did not cover their faces with one were left to continue.

Dentlinger’s inconsistency in applying Covid-19 protocols has since been widely lambasted, with a subsequent backlash against the news broadcaster’s response and inaction.

eNCA management later released a statement in defence of Dentlinger, and said “her conduct was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”.

ANC Western Cape convener Lerumo Kalako presented a memorandum of demands, which were accepted by e.tv’s head of news and sport, Nuruniesa Allie.

“As the ANC, we’ve come a long way in the fight against racism and the struggle for non-racialism. It's one thing we don't tolerate in whatever form,” said Kalako.

Some of the demands made to eNCA were for it to: withdraw the statement on Dentlinger and apologise to South Africans; send its journalists and management to human rights training; publicly acknowledge its history of mistreating black journalists; and issue a commitment that it will no longer tolerate racism within its ranks.

“From a company perspective, I am out here to acknowledge that we are not deaf to what we’ve heard. We hold people accountable. It’s part of our jobs, and we too need to be held accountable,” said Allie.

“We understand how this incident, regardless of the context, had ignited thoughts, feelings in many people, in the political spectrum, outside the political spectrum… We’ve already started looking at roundtable discussions that we can host in order to have some of these conversations.”

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who was leading the picket outside eNCA’s headquarters at Hyde Park, Johannesburg, said the eNCA management response was unacceptable.

“It’s a management response that says she didn’t mean it and they’re going to go through a disciplinary hearing. We saw what we saw, so is eNCA telling us they didn’t see what we saw and are they telling us they didn’t see not only that incident but many other incidents, which were then subsequently shown to viewers?

“It’s not enough and really there’s no room for any racism, be it overt or subliminal or a mistake. No, they must teach their journalists how to treat people with respect,” Duarte said.

In a statement, the ANC said it would submit a formal complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA and the South African Human Rights Commission. It called on the Independent Communications Authority of SA to investigate whether or not the reporter’s conduct was consistent with eNCA’s licence conditions.

Cape Argus

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