Television news broadcaster, eNCA, says its reporter’s conduct during the coverage of the Budget Speech was not racially motivated or with malicious intent.

eNCA political reporter, Lindsay Dentlinger, is at the centre of a racism storm after video footage of her interviews with Freedom Front Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, and the DA’s John Steenhuisen without their masks on, while she requested several Black political leaders, including UDM Chief Whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, to keep theirs on went viral on social media.

Some South Africans have branded her a racist, while the ANC in Gauteng demanded answers from the media house.

Managing Editor at eNCA John Bailey says, “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.

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. Criticism to this extent leveled at a journalist under these circumstances is unfair and unfortunate. Comments and some video content that are currently being shared is maliciously misleading.”

Managing Director, Norman Munzhelele, adds, “After carefully analysing the situation, we understand that given the pressure of the live TV environment such unplanned occurrences can occur. Through our deliberations, we have found that there is no mal intent on the part of the journalist. We further found that the way the journalist and eNCA has been perceived through this incident is unfair and not a true reflection of the journalist or our channel.

We also appreciate the sensitivity of the matter and people’s concerns and reaffirm our commitment to encouraging compliance with regulations designed to inhibit transmission of Covid-19 across our population irrespective of race, colour or creed.”

Meanwhile, the #NotInMyName Movement will be heading to the organisation’s Hyde Park offices on Friday to voice concerns against structural racism.

“Normalising racism, and its different manifestations would be tragic to the fabric of our society. We would want to hear from eNCA management how White people can be interviewed without putting on a mask while Black South Africans must keep it on before being interviewed.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters has described Dentlinger’s actions as racist micro-aggressions and says it reveals a deep-seated disrespect for Black people.

The UDM’s Nkwankwa has meanwhile told the National Assembly that he does not want a “patronising apology” from eNCA over the perceived biased treatment from the media house’s reporter.