The station faced a backlash from social media users who accused the channel of racism and unconscious bias, after Dentlinger last week asked UDM deputy president Nqabayomzi Kwankwa to wear a mask during an interview on the 2021 Budget Speech, while FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald was interviewed without a mask.
News clips also circulated online showing Dentlinger asking other black politicians to put on their masks, right after speaking to mask-less white politicians. She has denied this and eNCA is still investigating.
— thabang350 (@Thabang_350) February 24, 2021
“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,” Dentlinger said on Monday evening in an interview with eNCA’s Power to Truth with JJ Tabane programme.
“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.”
Last week, eNCA managing editor John Baily said in a statement the broadcaster had met with Dentlinger and concluded her conduct “was not racially motivated or with malicious intent”. He said Dentlinger was a seasoned journalist with more than 21 years of experience and she had interviewed many high-profile politicians without anyone calling her conduct into question.
“This incident represents an inaccurate and unfair image of her work,” Baily said.
Statement could have been better
However, eNCA managing director Norman Munzhelele said the statement could have been better and the company could have also finalised its investigation into the matter quicker.
“I take accountability, it is a lesson and we will do better next time,” Munzhelele said.
The UDM laid a complaint against eNCA with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa and the SA Human Rights Commission over the incident. The IFP has refused to be interviewed by the news channel.
The ANC is also expected to picket outside eNCA’s offices in Johannesburg on Tuesday.