Pretoria – Civil rights movement #NotInMyName descended on television news channel eNCA in Johannesburg on Friday in protest against alleged racism by one of its journalists.
This after the channel’s senior journalist, Lindsay Dentlinger, asked a black member of Parliament to put on a face mask in line with Covid-19 rules prior to a live interview, minutes after a white politician was allowed to go maskless, creating a furore.
The channel has defended Dentlinger against the broad backlash triggered by the interviews she conducted outside Parliament on Wednesday to get political parties’ reaction after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled the 2021 national Budget.
“We are standing here outside eNCA studios in Hyde Park, demanding accountability and action from the management after the racist behaviour of Lindsay Dentlinger.
’’We have noted that the management has sent out a media statement which was basically a middle finger to black people and the black race,” #NotInMyName president Siyabulela Jentile told the African News Agency (ANA).
“We have been here since 11.30 and they have promised to come down and talk to us. They have not done so yet. We are not going to leave this place until that is done.
’’It cannot be that white people are allowed to insult an entire race and then expect to get away with it.”
Jentile said the conduct of the journalist and the broadcaster has no place in a democratic South Africa.
“We want them to explain to us what justification they have in saying black bodies are carriers and the super spreaders of Covid-19, as opposed to white bodies. That is essentially why we are here and we hope to get answers,” he said.
A video clip that has gone viral and seen the news station trending on Twitter with the hashtag #eNCAmustfall shows Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald being interviewed without a mask. But when United Democratic Movement deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa walks to the microphone for his turn, Dentlinger requests that he put on his mask.
Twitter users have levelled charges of racism against the broadcaster, citing other examples of its “double standards”.
The Julius Malema-led EFF has lambasted eNCA as “a propaganda arm of white monopoly capital”, saying Dentlinger displayed disdain towards black MPs.
“These actions are known as racist micro-aggressions and reveal a deep-seated disrespect of black people by a news agency that the EFF has long identified as a propaganda arm of white monopoly capital.
’’The actions of the journalist of eNCA vindicate the EFF’s position that there is a culture of racism and factionalism at the eNCA, where the disrespect of black people thrives,” said the EFF in a statement.
“The rot at eNCA is so deep that white individuals perpetuate a culture of hate and discrimination against black people boldly in the public domain.
’’We reiterate our position that we have permanently disengaged with eNCA, who pulled out of the EFF’s Second National People’s Assembly on the instruction of their handler,Johann Rupert, because the political report of the Commander in Chief Julius Malema implicated those who bankroll their bought media platform.”
The EFF called on Parliament to take action against the “practice of racism in the precinct by eNCA”.
“Parliament has a duty, in line with the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act, to protect MPs against any form of abuse and harassment in the precinct. We reiterate our call for the boycotting of this racist news platform,” the EFF said.
The news channel has issued a statement defending its journalist, saying Dentlinger is a seasoned journalist with over 21 years of experience, nine of which have been with eNCA.
“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,” managing editor John Bailey said.
“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”.
Bailey said the criticism levelled at the journalist under these circumstances was “unfair and unfortunate” and that comments and some video content currently being shared on social media “is maliciously misleading”.
African News Agency (ANA)