In a clip that has gone viral FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald is interviewed without a mask. When UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa arrives for his turn to be interviewed he is requested to put on his mask. Picture: eNCA/YouTube/Screenshot
In a clip that has gone viral FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald is interviewed without a mask. When UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa arrives for his turn to be interviewed he is requested to put on his mask. Picture: eNCA/YouTube/Screenshot

IFP MP to meet eNCA journalist after mask on/mask off backlash

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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DURBAN - IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa is set to meet with eNCA journalist, Lindsay Dentlinger, following massive backlash after Dentlinger asked black politicians to wear face masks during interviews while white politicians were allowed to go maskless.

Taking to Twitter this morning, Hlengwa, who wore a mask while the reporter interviewed him, said he received a call from Dentlinger, who apologised for the events.

“However, understanding apologies to be only meaningful when accompanied by a journey, we've agreed to meet next week,” he tweeted.

On Thursday, the independent news broadcaster was hauled over the proverbial coals over the news coverage.

In one clip, the reporter interviews DA leader John Steenhuisen, who is without a mask, while she asks Hlengwa to keep his mask on.

In another clip, FF Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, was interviewed without a mask. When UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa arrived for his turn to be interviewed, he was requested to put on his mask.

In a statement on Friday morning, UDM president Bantu Holomisa said the incidents amounted to a slap in the face of any sober South African who witnessed them.

“We have written a letter eNCA managing editor John Bayley expressing our disgust at the racist treatment Mr Kwankwa had suffered at eNCA’s hands and instead of issuing an unreserved apology, eNCA chose to defend their and their journalist’s actions with insipid excuses”.

He added the title of eNCA’s statement in response to the incident was confusing.

"It negates the crux of the matter, that the aggrieved party is in fact Mr Kwankwa who was treated differently to his white colleague. It adds further insult to injury that eNCA does not even have the courtesy to acknowledge Mr Kwankwa," Holomisa said.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the broadcaster said it understood how Dentlinger’s coverage could have created a space for “general public conjecture”.

“However, eNCA Management, after meeting with Dentlinger to discuss the matter, concluded that her conduct was not racially motivated or with malicious intent.

“In an intense live broadcast environment like the budget speech coverage, our journalists are under pressure to remain compliant while delivering fair, accurate and balanced news. The journalist had to contend with being live on air and taking producer instructions via her earpiece and unfortunately failed to request that the interviewee wear a mask,” said Bailey.

“Criticism to this extent levelled at a journalist under these circumstances is unfair and unfortunate. Comments and some video content that are currently being shared are maliciously misleading.”

The broadcaster added when it came to adherence to Covid-19 protocols, eNCA had broadcast extensive content to educate viewers while journalists are regularly urged to ensure that they and all interviewees remain compliant.

“After carefully analysing the situation, we understand that given the pressure of the live TV environment such unplanned occurrences can occur. Through our deliberations, we have found that there is no malicious intent on the part of the journalist,” managing director Norman Munzhelele said.

“We further found that the way the journalist and eNCA has been perceived through this incident is unfair and not a true reflection of the journalist or our channel.

“We also appreciate the sensitivity of the matter and people’s concerns and reaffirm our commitment to encouraging compliance with regulations designed to inhibit transmission of Covid-19 across our population, irrespective of race, colour or creed,” the broadcaster said.

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