August 25 2005 at 09:50AM
By Solly Maphumulo and Angela Quintal
A politician and e.tv have urged the SABC "to do the right thing".
On Wednesday night, e.tv aired footage showing that an SABC cameraman had been present when Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was booed on Women's Day, despite the SABC's denial.
In an apology to its viewers last week, the SABC released a statement blaming an unnamed freelance cameraman for failing to record the booing, saying he was late and could not get the pictures.
However, e.tv news on Wednesday showed the SABC's cameraman carrying his camera and filming the jeering pro-Jacob Zuma supporters at a rally in KwaZulu Natal.
But SABC spokesperson Paul Setsetse shot back on Wednesday night, accusing e.tv's report of creating the perception the public broadcaster was biased.
"It is extremely unfortunate and worrying if this is how competition is supposed to be," said Setsetse, adding that e.tv was bitter because the public broadcaster had announced that it made a R240-million profit on Tuesday. "This is clearly an attempt to distract people from our good performance during the past financial year."
He stressed that the SABC did broadcast a similar incident at a June 16 rally in Durban, where Sbu Ndebele, the Kwazulu Natal premier, had been chased away by angry Zuma supporters.
But e.tv's national news editor, Patrick Conroy, said the public broadcaster had an obligation to be honest and transparent in their reports because people paid for their television licences.
"Our footage clearly shows their cameraman was present and filming the booing as it happened. We therefore felt the SABC needed to explain to the public why its own version of event seems to contradict that fact," Conroy said.
"We knew from the outset the SABC was present for the booing incident. We don't like to criticise our colleagues in the media, but we couldn't in good conscience sit idle while they made contradictory statements."
Meanwhile IFP MP Suzanne Vos has called on the SABC to "do the right thing" Vos, who also serves as a member of the National Assembly's communications committee, said on Wednesay night: "If it is true, then the SABC's chairman of the board, Eddie Funde, and Snuki Zikalala have some explaining to do. It will be the right thing to do."
The pair should explain to the public why the SABC appeared to have lied, she said.
Cosatu spokesperson Paul Notyhawa said he was not in a position to immediately comment as he had not seen the e.tv broadcast.
Last week, Cosatu publicly welcomed the SABC's apology, saying it demonstrated that the broadcaster had a clear conscience "and that the mistake, as they allege, was unintentional".