Barry Bateman called EFF Julius Malema a p*** after a press conference. Picture: Screenshot

Johannesburg - A Johannesburg doctor has launched a funding drive for suspended Eyewitness News journalist Barry Bateman, who had a month’s salary docked after he was caught swearing at EFF leader Julius Malema with a derogatory term after an impromptu press conference in September. 

At the time of the incident, Bateman, who had been amongst a group of journalists interviewing Malema in Pretoria, was caught by television cameras referring to Malema as a p**s as the EFF leader walked away after addressing members of the media. 

He was suspended by EWN soon after, who apologised for the incident. 

But this week, Bateman publicly apologised to Malema in a letter and accepted the actions instituted by his bosses at Primedia, which owns EWN.  

Dr Jonathan Witt, who is also a co-host on Renegade Sport, launched the unorthodox 'crowdfund' on Tuesday after expressing disagreement with Bateman having his salary docked. The funds are donated straight into Bateman's bank account and not through a crowdfunding facility.

Witt tweeted on Tuesday: “So it appears as if EWN forced an apology out of Barry Bateman, they dare not piss off their friends in the EFF. An apology to a bunch of fascists is one thing, suspending a top journalist who has a family to support without pay is another entirely. Sad state of affairs”. 

After requests for funding details from his followers, he returned to tweet: “My friend, and journalist, @barrybateman has been suspended without pay following an incident last month for which he has apologised. If you’re able to help him make ends meet this month please consider making a donation,” he tweeted, along with the banking details. 

Bateman himself, confirmed the account listed in the tweeted was his.

In Bateman’s apology on Tuesday, he unreservedly apologised to Malema, his employers and the South African public for his conduct. He said he accepted disciplinary charges instituted against him. He was docked one month's salary without pay for the month of October and a final written warning, which is valid for a period of 12 months. 

“l, Barry Bateman, unreservedly apologise to all South African's (sic); all Women; Mr Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF; my employer, Eyewitness News, a part of the Primedia Group; and everyone else that I offended during my derogatory, insulting and obscene outburst on the 10th of September 2019," the statement said.  

"As a Senior Journalist and a citizen or South Africa, I have a duty uphold the highest ethical standards and professional conduct, whatever the circumstances or differences I may have with other newsmakers. 

"My comments went against my company's values and risked undermining the important role it plays in promoting gender equality, its contribution to the country's war against gender-based violence and its role In building trust as an ethical media house." 

"The highly charged environment on 10 September 2019, was no excuse. My conduct was unjustifiable. I remain committed to the principles and ethos of the esteemed journalism profession, which is critical to strengthening a democratic South Africa through accountable and responsible media," he added. "I will continue to reflect on my unbecoming conduct during the period of my suspension."