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Jessie Duarte slams eNCA over response to mask racism saga at ANC picket

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

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal picketed outside the eNCA offices in uMhlanga on Tuesday morning voicing. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

Samkelo Mtshali

Cape Town – ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has slammed eNCA for its response to the conduct of its reporter Lindsay Dentlinger, who has been accused of racism over her handling of the wearing of masks by MPs.

Dentlinger came under fire last week for asking black politicians to wear masks during interviews, but not asking the same of white politicians. The issue surfaced during interviews with political leaders following the delivery of the 2021 Budget Speech by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

As Dentlinger sought reaction to the budget from political leaders, she was seen interviewing Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, who was not wearing a mask, and moments later as the UDM’s Nqabayesizwe Kwankwa approached to be interviewed, he took off his mask but Dentlinger quickly asked him to keep it on.

However, in a statement, eNCA defended Dentlinger, saying that her “alleged inconsistent behaviour was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”.

Today, the ANC is holding pickets outside eNCA offices countrywide and where there are no eNCA offices, the party is picketing outside SA Human Rights Commission offices.

Duarte, who is 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.

On Monday, Dentlinger apologised for the incident during an interview on the channel’s Power to Truth with JJ Tabane.

“I totally acknowledge the outrage and I apologise for the disrespect it has caused to the people who don’t deserve to be drawn into this.

“I felt awful from how this is perceived and what the country believes to be a true reflection of who I am as a journalist. I do acknowledge how it is portrayed. I am being portrayed as not speaking to any black unless he is wearing a mask,” Dentlinger said.

Political Bureau