There is no indication that eNCA journalist Lindsay Dentlinger’s request to UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa to keep his mask on “advocated hatred based on race against black people.”
This is according to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA), which issued its ruling on Friday following complaints from UDM and others.
In a video clip shared widely on social media in late February, Dentlinger was heard asking Kwankwa to keep his mask on shortly after interviewing FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald, who was not wearing a mask.
Kwankwa had his mask on, but was in the process of removing it for the interview. The incident sparked controversy and claims that Dentlinger was racially biased against Kwankwa. She denied the claims and issued an apology.
eNCA ‘did not contravene code’
In its ruling, BCCSA said, “The broadcast has caused offence, as evidenced by these complaints before the BCCSA, but the broadcaster did not contravene Clause 10.3 of the Code.”
It added that while past injustices have caused “sensitivity” on matters involving race, “the facts of this matter do not justify an inference of the advocacy of hatred against black people.”
“There are several inferences that a reasonable viewer could have drawn from the broadcast, the most obvious of which was that current regulations demand that precautions must be taken to curb the spread of COVID-19,” the Commission said.
“After considering all the facts, it is found that the broadcaster did not contravene the Code. The complaints are accordingly not upheld.”
eNCA welcomes ruling
In a statement, eNCA‘s managing director, Norman Munzhelele, welcomed the ruling, adding that the broadcaster remains committed to “providing fair and balanced news irrespective of race, colour or creed.”
“eNCA understands how our reporter’s coverage created a space for general public conjecture and are sorry that her behaviour was perceived to be racist and offended viewers,” he added.
“However, we reiterate that our internal investigation found, like the BCCSA did, that her conduct was not racially motivated.”
In a letter to eNCA on Friday, however, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa accused the broadcaster of “being so stubbornly tone-deaf to the implications of this incident.”
Writing on Twitter, Holomisa also called on National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to “ban” eNCA from Parliament’s Press Gallery.