Professor BC Majola
Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission
Private Bag X2700
Dear Professor Majola
Complaint regarding eNCA’s racist treatment of UDM Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP during a live broadcast
1. The United Democratic Movement (UDM) herewith approaches the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for relief on behalf of its Deputy President, Mr Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP, in relation to his treatment at the hands of eNews Channel Africa (eNCA), its journalist Ms Lindsay Dentlinger and its production team.
2. eNCA produced a live broadcast of interviews of politicians and commentators on the steps of Parliament directly after the delivery of the 2021 Budget on Wednesday, 24 February 2021.
3. Ms Dentlinger had interviewed Dr Pieter Groenewald, MP and Parliamentary Leader of the Freedom Front Plus, who had not been wearing a mask as stipulated by Covid-19 regulations. As United Democratic Movement (UDM) Deputy President Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, MP, who happens to be black, approached Ms Dentlinger to be interviewed, she asked him to wear his mask after he had removed it to be interviewed as had his white colleague.
4. The world witnessed thoughtless racism where a white South African was interviewed without a mask, whilst a black South African received different treatment and this is what went through many people’s minds, as so well-articulated by tweeter, Siyabulela Jentile
I am ready to sleep in a jail today. eNCA management must come out and tell us why they think black bodies are the only carriers and spreaders of the Corona virus! #eNCA #LindsayDentlingerMustFall #eNCAMUSTFALL pic.twitter.com/Z59uQjZbe4
— Siyabulela Jentile (@siya_jentile) February 26, 2021
5. The fact that Mr Kwankwa was asked to do so is not the crux of the matter, as South Africa deals with Covid-19 and the regulations must be obeyed. However, the UDM believes the racist double-standard is, and as such, Mr Kwankwa was unfairly discriminated against, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of race which is one of the most important tenets of the Constitution of this great country.
6. The UDM went to the effort of contacting eNCA’s Managing Editor, Mr John Bailey, to express our disappointment with what had occurred. The simple, conciliatory course of action on their part would have been to issue a public apology to Mr Kwankwa, the UDM and all sober minded South Africans for what had happened. Yet, they chose to support and defend their reprehensible actions through a statement in the media and have not yet even had the courtesy to respond to our letter.
7. South Africa’s hurtful past keeps haunting us. Public broadcasters have a responsibility to its viewers and the public to not only report fairly, but also to set a good example when it comes to matters such as discrimination based on race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation and physical or mental illness or disability. They must be held to, and judged by, a higher standard.
8. The UDM wishes the SAHRC to consider the entire matter with the urgency and gravity it deserves and should make eNCA see the error of their ways.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP
President of the United Democratic Movement