‘SABC knew Motsoeneng did not have matric’

2014-08-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Hlaudi Motsoeneng said he had never lied about his matric certificate when the SABC headhunted him as a journalist in the Free State in 1995.

The Democratic Alliance was applying for an urgent interim interdict to remove Motsoeneng as COO of the national broadcaster, pending a review of the decision to appoint him.

The DA told the court he was a “toxic influence” in the organisation.

Advocate Norman Arendse SC, for Motsoeneng, told the Western Cape High Court Motsoeneng was headhunted in 1995 while a Free State stringer (freelancer) and asked to complete a certificate course in radio journalism, which he duly did.

Arendse said the DA’s portrayal of Motsoeneng as a liar is shameful and defamatory and its allegations that the entire SABC was frightened of him showed how paranoid and hysterical the party is.

Arendse reacted to the argument by advocate Anton Katz SC, for the DA, that Motsoeneng had lied from the start to both the SABC and now also to the court.

The DA’s application focused on the “unlawful” process that the board undertook in its recommendation of his appointment, the rationality employed in the decision, and the findings in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report, titled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”.

In February, Madonsela released her report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting COO. She found his salary increased from R1,5 million to R2,4 million in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC. She recommended that a new COO be appointed at the SABC within 90 days.

Before Communications Minister Faith Mu­thambi and the SABC chair Ellen Tshabalala could co-operate with the public protector, Motsoeneng was appointed as the COO.

Tshabalala, in her court papers, reportedly rubbished Madonsela’s report.

Tshabalala also said the broadcaster knew from day one that Motsoeneng did not have matric.

She said he was not dishonest, had never misled the SABC, and was not responsible for any irregular spending.

Supporting this view, Arendse read out an affidavit by the managing editor of SABC news radio, Alwyn Kloppers, who was tasked in 1994 with appointing a more representative staff complement.

Kloppers said he recommended Motsoeneng be appointed in 1995 because of his commitment and passion, despite not having a matric certificate.

“Given his skills and credibilities, we thought this was not an obstacle in appointing him,” Kloppers stated in the affidavit.

Arendse said Madonsela and the DA ignored this information.

“What we have heard here today is further terrible insults against Mr Motsoeneng. It cannot be justified based on hearsay and based on a report which constitutes only the opinion of the public protector,” Arendse said.

Arendse said while the public protector had done good work in the past her report on Motsoeneng was “not her best work”.

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