EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu apologised to Netwerk24 journalist Adrian de Kock for a fracas on Tuesday on the parliamentary precinct, even though he did not recognise the reporter who has laid an assault charge against him.
"I don't even know [what] he looks like," said Shivambu, when asked if he had anything to say to De Kock, as he entered the Marks Building, where the EFF's offices are.
"Ah no, I'm sorry my brother, if it's you. I'm sorry for the incident. I did not know that you are here.
"If you are offended I am unconditionally sorry. Is that clear?" said Shivambu as he left to enter the building.
De Kock said afterwards: "I accept the apology. But he did what he did.
"I decided to lay charges regardless. I had to shout to get some help."
The complaint with the police would stay in place, he said.
Earlier, Shivambu was caught on camera with his hand around De Kock's throat, while another man had his hands on De Kock and his camera.
De Kock said he went over to Shivambu to get a comment about Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille's disciplinary hearing when the scuffle started.
"I went over to Floyd to try and get comment from him for the Patricia de Lille hearing, just to see if, as the opposition, he has any comment," De Kock said after the incident.
"I went to him and I said to him: 'Do you have any comment,' and he said: 'No, you must delete the picture,' and I said: 'I can't delete the pictures'."And then he started grabbing my camera, trying to delete the pictures... He went for my camera and then tried to break my camera," De Kock added.
Parliament's Press Gallery Association and the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) condemned the incident.
Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase described Shivambu's behaviour as intolerant, saying it was unacceptable in a democracy."As a member of Parliament, he is entrusted with protecting our hard-earned media freedom and freedom of expression, as is enshrined in our Constitution. He should lead by example and champion journalists' protected right to do their work without fear or favour," she said.
A written apology was also extended via a statement issued by the EFF.
The Cape Town Press stated that even though Shivambu had apologised, the matter cannot be considered closed. "Mr Shivambu is an elected public representative and is expected to set a better example. We urge Netwerk24 to pursue their complaint against Mr Shivambu further, and we trust that the Parliamentary Presiding Officers will discipline him for his actions," said Vice Chairperson Martin Slabbert-Capper.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of the National Assembly and chairperson of the National Council of Provinces said the incident would be investigated.
"Parliament is concerned by the incident as it is not in line with its commitment to press freedom and a media-friendly environment as enshrined in the Constitution's Bill of Rights. The Presiding Officers will investigate the alleged incident and, where necessary, determine an appropriate decision," they said in a statement.