Floyd Shivambu, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ deputy president and parliamentary chief whip, has apologised for a “scuffle” in which he manhandled a Netwerk24 journalist in the parliamentary precinct this morning.
The incident, captured on video (see below), sees Shivambu and two unidentified males forcing Adrian de Kock up against a wall while they try and get hold of his camera. Shivambu is clearly seen putting his hands on De Kock as the journalists says “leave my stuff alone”. As soon as the EFF’s second-in-command puts his hand on De Kock’s neck he immediately shouts: “I’ll put you up for harassment.” Shivambu then releases him and walks away.
In a statement released through the EFF’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Shivambu stated that he took “full responsibility and apologise for engaging in a scuffle with a person I discovered after the incident is a journalist.”
De Kock said that he asked Shivambu for comment regarding the disciplinary inquiry against Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, and Shivambu declined to comment. Shivambu then demanded he delete a picture he had taken of him.
While trying to justify his actions Shivambu said that the scuffle arose as a “result of circumstances which included taking of photographs and persistence to speak to me while receiving documents from staff members...”
He also admitted that, even though he was in a hurry to attend the Standing Committee on Finance, that his “impatience” was inappropriate.
Immediately after the incident the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association released a statement, saying they were “appalled by the assault” and would be writing to the speaker of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and the EFF for disciplinary action to take place.
“Any journalist working in the Parliamentary precinct, on assignment and outside any restricted area, has full right to photograph and ask questions of any public representative,” said the association’s chairperson, Andisiwe Makinana, adding that De Kock had “full rights” to lay criminal charges against Shivambu and his male companion.
In a series of tweets the South African Editors Forum also said that it was “shocked following an attack on a journalist”, and that it “is extremely disappointed by Shivambu’s actions.”
“This type of intolerant behaviour is unacceptable in a democracy,” it said, calling on the “authorities to thoroughly investigate the complaint so that Shivambu can be held accountable for his actions”.
Political parties’ reactions
The ANC condemned the “manhandling” and “violent behaviour”, calling it “regrettable” and “completely unacceptable”. ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu called on the Speaker of Parliament to “thoroughly investigate” the incident and “import the appropriate sanction for such unbecoming behaviour”.
The FF Plus has said it would also be writing to the Baleka Mbete to take action against Shivambu, saying that it considered the attack to be “extremely serious”.
“It is a direct attack on the freedom of the media and freedom of speech,” the party said, adding that it would “ensure that the police investigate the matter with the necessary urgency and diligence.”
The Democratic Alliance has also said that it will be reporting Shivambu to Parliament’s ethics committee for investigation and action and encouraged De Kock to lay criminal charges against Shivambu.
The FF Plus and the DA highlighted the EFF’s “aggressive attitude towards the media by the EFF”, saying the party’s leader, Julius Malema, had used racially divisive language when he condemned eNCA for “one-sided reporting”.