While SABC reporters were allowed access to the event, eNCA reporters were turned away. According to the Minister’s communication team, the SABC team “knew their parameters.”
She was offended by camera operator Bongumusa Mkhize filming her arrival at the KwaNzimela Anglican Church Hall in Mthonjaneni and barred reporter Thubalihle Vilane from entering.
Bathabile’s Chief of Staff, Palesa Mphamo, also informed the eNCA team that the Minister refuses to engage with them. eNCA has since expressed their “deep concern at being barred from an event of national importance by a government minister:
“We reserve the right to ask questions of any publicly appointed representative, indeed we see it as our duty to do so. As a member of the media, it is our constitutional right to operate freely and without harassment.”
They added that it was of great concern to be “gagged in this way,” especially leading up to the election year, and will continue to engage with the Department of Women and GCIS to prevent this from happening again.
Opinion has been divided on Twitter. Some citizens commended the minister for her actions, while others say she had no right to ban reporters from entering.
A user known as Kelebogile Malela said that the 16 Days of Activism campaign is about “gender-based violence, not about her,” and added that many of eNCA’s readers may be victims of GVB violence, who will now miss out on the launch.
Iponeng Motaung said it was the “last kicks of a dying horse, she really has overstepped the ministry.” Jean asked: “Q: How do you launch a successful campaign and let everyone know about it? A: Ban the people who let everybody know about your campaign.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, a netizen told eNCA that they were barred due to their “biased, subjective reporting and the minority interest [they] represent,” while Mpho added that the eNCA is a “political party now serving its select few.”