The gloves are now off – lawyer for fired SABC journalists

2016-07-18 20:43
SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Mary-Ann Palmer

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: Mary-Ann Palmer

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Johannesburg – The lawyer for the four SABC journalists that were fired on Monday says their battle with the broadcaster has now intensified.

“We are quite devastated by the decision of the SABC to dismiss the four employees. This is quite unexpected. There are several litigation steps against the SABC in this regard. We have to inform them that the matter is going to the Constitutional Court. It seems the gloves are off,” Anton van der Bijl, the labour attorney for Solidarity, told News24.

The four are Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp.

Van Der Bijl said the group would fight the matter "until the end".

"It is unfair because these individuals have done nothing wrong. I do not know the reasons for dismissal."

The four were expected to approach the Labour Court this week to obtain an urgent interdict against the broadcaster.

Solidarity said in an earlier statement that it "wants to have the suspension and disciplinary action against several SABC journalists set aside pending the adjudication by the Constitutional Court of the lawfulness of the SABC’s censorship instructions".

'Strong case against SABC'

"This comes after the SABC still failed to withdraw the charges against the journalists for their refusal to apply censorship. In a recent letter to the suspended and disciplined journalists, the SABC also accused them of having allegedly committed 'further misbehaviour' by informing the media of their suspensions and their continued refusal to comply with the SABC’s instructions."

Solidarity chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann said: "We...believe that the individuals concerned have a very strong case against the SABC for the very reason that the charges laid against them by their employer are inconsistent with the Constitution."

Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, Krige and Venter were previously served with suspension letters after they disagreed with an instruction during a diary conference not to cover the Right2Know campaign's protest against censorship at the SABC.

That protest was in response to SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision to stop airing footage of the destruction of property during protests. This caused outrage from civil society and media organisations.

Following this, the SABC charged three other journalists for "liaising with the media" without authorisation from their bosses.

The three - Busisiwe Ntuli, Pillay and Steenkamp - wrote a letter to COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng last weekend, expressing their dissatisfaction with how operations had been managed at the SABC over the last few weeks.

Journalists Lukhanyo Calata and Vuyo Mvoko have also been either charged or suspended by the broadcaster.  

Read more on:    sabc  |  hlaudi motsoeneng  |  media

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