Communications Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams apologises 'wholeheartedly' to SA
"I've learnt that if you do things without thinking, there can be dire consequences," said Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
JOHANNESBURG - Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said on Wednesday she took full responsibility for preventing the media from reporting on a protest during the ANC's manifesto launch in the Eastern Cape over the weekend.
The minister conceded on the Xolani Gwala show on 702 on Wednesday to "over-reacting". She also described her response to journalists as a "bad move".
During the launch in Mount Frere at the weekend, angry supporters stormed the launch, demanding better service delivery. Video footage showed Ndabeni-Abrahams blocking journalists from the SABC and other media houses from covering the protest.
She told reporters to cover what they came for and not to give coverage to "people that are out of order".
"My fear was not the camera being there. But the people were not going to stop because the camera was there," Ndabeni-Abrahams said during the interview with Gwala.
Gwala highlighted that the minister's actions was reminiscent of former SABC CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng's idea that covering protests makes people protest more. The minister disagreed, saying she did not know it was an SABC camera that she was blocking.
When told that the communications minister should be the first person to allow the media to do their job, Ndabeni-Abrahams said she knew this was why she was wrong.
"Which is why the [communications] minister is apologising wholeheartedly to the country to say 'yes, it was a bad move'. I was not supposed to act like that," she said.
The minister asked for forgiveness and said she acknowledged her actions embarrassed the ANC.
"I appeal to all South Africans to forgive me for what I've done," she said.
The minister said she learnt lessons after the matter.
"I've learnt that if you do things without thinking, there can be dire consequences," Ndabeni-Abrahams said.
The minister added she understood the impact her actions had on the way the public understood the ANC's perspective on media freedom. She also apologised to the party.
"The ANC is very resolute on the commitment to media freedom in this country," she said. "This is why I take responsibility as an individual to say I apologise, not just to media, [but] the people of South Africa, and the ANC and its government."
AT THE WEEKEND
Ndabeni-Abrahams came under fire from several organisations, including the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) after the incident, which requested an urgent meeting with the minister after the ordeal.
The minister apologised after the incident.
"I wish to assure the media and South Africans at large my unreserved commitment to media freedom. I sincerely regret the incident," Ndabeni-Abrahams said at the weekend through a statement.
Sanef said it was concerned she referred to her actions at the weekend as an "altercation".
"Given the minister’s high-profile portfolio relating in particular to the SABC, we would like to have an urgent meeting with her to discuss the matter and our concerns," Sanef said in a statement.
During the interview with Gwala, the minister said her second statement on the matter corrected the term "altercation" to say "incident".
WATCH: Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams blocks media