Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has said he no longer plans to take legal action against eNCA reporter Zikhona Tshona.
The matter relates to a video clip played on eNCA on Wednesday in which Tshona had asked Masuku about overcrowding in a hospital’s maternity ward in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
In the clip, Masuku is seen questioning why the mothers who had given birth had not gone back home.
‘Use of clip without consent’
Speaking to City Press on Friday, the MEC accused Tshona of using the video clip without his consent.
“I will be taking legal action against her personally, not as an MEC, but as an individual because my professional standing has been put into question,” he said.
However, in a media statement on Saturday, the Gauteng health department said Masuku will no longer be suing the reporter.
It said, “The MEC has extended an apology over the eNCA interview and furthermore his team has engaged with the management of eNCA over the matter and shared the MEC’s version of events.”
‘I have learnt my lesson’
The department added, “Post the engagement with eNCA and his team, MEC Masuku has no desire to engage any further on this matter and will not be pursuing any legal action.”
Masuku reiterated his commitment to media freedom, but also said the media has a responsibility to “uphold a high ethical standard.”
In a tweet, he added, “I’m not suing anyone. The matter has been resolved on Friday already, post the apology. My focus is serving the people of Gauteng and overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. I have learnt my lesson. Humbled.”
eNCA confirmed its engagement with Masuku’s communications team in a tweet on Saturday. It said, “While eNCA accepts the MEC’s apology, we maintain our editorial independence and the journalism practiced by our journalists in the field.”
Earlier in the week, Tshona also said she had informed Masuku that the interview was being recorded.
She tweeted, “Just to set the record straight, I explained to the MEC that I will be recording from the time he views the footage, so that I could get his reaction to them and get visuals of him watching. He was fully aware that camera was rolling and he could have said cut.”
Several media practitioners also came to her defence on social media, arguing that she was just doing her job.
Journalist Karyn Maughan tweeted, “So the MEC of the Gauteng Health department is suing @ZikhonaTshona for recording his unfeeling reaction to overcrowding at the Mamelodi hospital? He’s an official who needs to behave appropriately AT ALL TIMES. This seems like an attempt to bully a reporter for doing her job.”