The DA has accused the ANC and the EFF of using the allegedly racist eNCA mask incident as a ploy to further exploit racial tensions.

Recall that Broadcaster eNCA and reporter Lindsay Dentlinger have come under fire for the last two weeks after the reporter was accused of racially discriminating against MPs when asking them to put on their masks during the Finance Minister’s Budget Speech last month.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone announced on Friday that the DA will lay a complaint against the ANC and the EFF with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for race-baiting. The SAHRC confirmed last week that it has opened an own accord investigation following various complaints, including from UDM leader General Bantu Holomisa, against Dentlinger.

The commission said “The commission is in the process of investigating the matter, and has requested to meet with eNCA and Ms Dentlinger on the allegations”.

The reporter defended herself and apologised last week, saying that she was not acting in a racist manner during the incident.

However, Mazzone accused the ANC of calling Dentlinger a racist “without reviewing the evidence” and of fuelling tensions by claiming that the broadcaster has a history of mistreating black people. She added that the EFF likewise called for a total boycott of the news channel.

On Tuesday, the ANC led by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte staged a picket outside eNCA offices and South

African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) offices across the country in an anti-racism campaign.

Mazzone “It has now emerged that parts of the video came from much older interviews – some of which were conducted before the pandemic or before wearing masks was mandated. This explains fully why some MPs were not wearing masks during some interviews, while others were asked to do so”.

She added that the earlier clips were used selectively to purport that white MPs were not asked to wear masks while black MPs were.

“The ANC and EFF, however, pounced on this opportunity and used the video as a ploy to further exploit racial tensions, effectively race-baiting in order to rile up particular audiences. This is very dangerous, especially when these assumptions are made without any verified evidence,” the chief whip said. She accused the ANC and EFF of intentionally stirring up tensions and that race-baiting had no place within South Africa’s democratic society.

The chief whip also said “Political parties, especially, have a duty and responsibility to work towards racial cohesion. We need to work towards healing the racial divides still present in society and not add to it, like the ANC and EFF have been doing here”.

Meanwhile, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has condemned the threats to Dentlinger’s life and called the alleged abuse, including rape threats made to the reporter, uncalled for. “South Africans have a right to call out journalists when they err. But this should not degenerate into cyberbullying and misogyny as currently faced by Dentlinger”.