The South African Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has added its voice to the debacle where Eyewitness News (EWN) journalist Barry Bateman called EFF leader Julius Malema a “p**s” shortly after an interview on Tuesday.
The video has been shared widely on social media and Bateman’s name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday.
In a brief statement, Sanef said in noted the “raging debate on the matter of 702 journalist, Barry Bateman, and his uttering of an unsavoury word in public allegedly aimed at EFF leader Julius Malema”.
“Sanef notes the concerns raised by the supporters of the EFF. We also note that employer Primedia has apologised and has launched an investigation into the matter.
“Sanef does not condone the unprofessional behaviour on the part of any journalist. However, we believe this should not be used as an excuse to trigger an all-out attack on the media and journalists as a collective. Rather than a verdict being debated on social media, we ask that this matter be dealt with via the media house concerned.”
EWN has apologised to Malema for the foul language used by Bateman. The EFF however has rejected the apology, calling it “lukewarm”.
The broadcaster said Bateman was taken off air immediately after it was made aware of the video and will hold an internal probe that would deal with the matter appropriately.
Malema was addressing the media following a meeting with the Hawks on Tuesday, where he was scheduled to deliver a warning statement.
The warning statement relates to charges stemming from allegations that he discharged a firearm at a rally in East London.
He told journalists that charges against him were politically motivated, challenging the Hawks to make sound decisions when charging him.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the charges would be finalised next week.
Malema is also facing charges of aggravated assault in a separate matter after footage was released of him and party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi allegedly in an altercation with a police officer at the funeral of struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
Reacting to the charges, Malema said he would never apologise to the white man who refused him entry to the grave site of Madikizela-Mandela.”When I came out of the car I said to him: ‘Chief what are you doing now?’ with the hope that the guy will recognise me, and he says: ‘No, you are not going to enter here.’ A big, white Afrikaner male stopping me from burying Winnie Mandela. I had to be next to the coffin and no white man was going to stop me, if that means I must go to prison let it be. No one was going to stop me from burying Winnie Mandela, it was not going to happen,” Malema said.
Bateman then asked: “So you did attack him?”
To which Malema responded, facing Bateman directly: “If that is an attack, take it! It is. Take it! For Winnie I will do everything, I did that when she was alive, I will do that even now.”
When asked by Bateman if the footage of Malema assaulting the man was indeed correct, Malema responded saying: “I wish I did that, I wish I assaulted him. Now that it’s a real issue, I wish I did the real thing, proper. I regret not doing it. So that I deal with real stuff. Me, I’m not scared boet, uniform or no uniform. Afrikaner or no Afrikaner. White or pink, I deal with you decisively.”
As Malema walked away from the journalists gathered around him, Bateman then used the expletive while speaking to one of the journalists.