A social media firestorm of criticism engulfed the respected anchor of News Day on the Sabido-run TV news channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform on Wednesday when, after a video clip of the basic education minister, Andrew Barnes quipped that "maybe someone should have a word with the basic education minister on how to pronounce the word epitome".
eNCA has taken Andrew Barnes off air with immediate effect with Amy MacIver substituting on News Day on Thursday afternoon.
Later on Thursday afternoon eNCA, which initially didn't report the news late on Wednesday or early Thursday, finally started to report about the incident on-air.
eNCA anchor and reporter Cathy Mohlahlana told viewers that "a controversial comment by a eNCA anchor has drawn a strong reaction on social media. Senior anchor Andrew Barnes remarked on basic education minister Angie Motshekga's pronunciation" and that eNCA is following "due labour practice".
Mapi Mhlangu, eNCA news director, read the same statement on-air that eNCA supplied to the media, saying "his comment was not only hurtful and unneccessary, but deeply insensitive. eNCA apologises for his comment."
"We remain committed to honest, fair, accurate and unbiased reporting. Any action or statement from an employee that undermines that ethos is taken very seriously."
Andrew Barnes who was taken off air, is appearing on-air in a recorded apology.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity to apologise for a comment that I made on News Day on Wednesday afternoon," said Andrew Barnes, appearing with an unbuttoned shirt and without a tie.
"I made fun of the education minister's pronunciation of the word 'epitome'. I realise now that that comment caused a lot of hurt and offense because ultimately it was unfair and insensitive. To those at home and minister Motshekga, I'm sorry," said Andrew Barnes.
eNCA also placed the on-air apology on its website at 15:22 on Thursday afternoon.