SABC news head loses court battle

2012-12-30 10:00

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The suspended head of SABC news and current affairs, Phil Molefe, haslost his court bid to force the public broadcaster to reinstate him.

Last Thursday, the South Gauteng High Court dismissed his application to have his suspension and pending disciplinary hearing declared unlawful.

Molefe, the former SABC acting chief executive, faces a disciplinary hearing in which his former boss and ex-SABC chief executive, Advocate Dali Mpofu, will represent him.

Molefe asked the court to rule “the imposition or continuation of his special leave unlawful and, accordingly, invalid, null and void”.

He was placed on special leave from his R2.2 million-a-year job in April for failing to forward the daily SABC news diary to his boss, group chief executive and editor in chief Lulama Mokhobo,as per the broadcaster’s editorial policy.

Molefe was not available for comment this week. When he was suspended in April, he said he didn’t back any political faction or any party.

At the time, Molefe said as a professional his role was to ensure that all sides of a story were reflected in the news output.

However, that didn’t sit well with his immediate boss, who suspended him.

Jimi Matthews, the head of TV news, has since been appointed temporarily.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said disciplinary proceedings against Molefe were continuing.

The SABC came under fire recently for canning a Metro FM current affairs programme because the ANC was not “invited”.

The debate, featuring three senior political commentators, was to focus on the ANC’s elective conference.

Meanwhile, the SABC is taking action against its officials involved in incurring R114 million in irregular expenditure.

The payments include R28 million paid to Cricket SA; R5.2 million paid to SuperSport for the broadcast of last year’s Tri-Nations home rugby Tests; about R7.5 million to Sport Five and the SA Football Association for the Bafana Bafana matches against Burkina Faso and Egypt; R4 million to the SA Press Association for the radio division; R2.6 million for a Confederation of African Football Under-20 event; and R2.1 million for the broadcast of the SA Sports Awards.

The SABC says the events were broadcast without signed contracts or payments effected without contracts in place.

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