Cameraman could sue SABC

Johannesburg - The freelance cameraman accused of not turning up in time to film negative reaction to deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has said he is considering legal action, a Sunday newspaper reported.

"I did my work and everything is on tape," Sonjay Singh told the Rapport newspaper.

Singh said he had not heard anything from the SABC, and had not been "let go" as SABC spokesperson Paul Setsetse had indicated.

"I have still not heard anything from the SABC, and I will definitely consider investigating legal action if I have been fired," he said.

Setsetse said the SABC had cancelled Singh's contract for turning up late at a Women's Day meeting in Utrecht.

He said the SABC had not flighted the incident because Singh missed filming the pro-Zuma crowd's booing of Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Singh claims he was there the entire time, and footage confirms his statement.

"I gave the entire tape to the SABC news department," Singh told Rapport.

DA spokesperson Dene Smuts said the "SABC has now twice been caught misrepresenting the facts about it own conduct and coverage".

Commenting on the Rapport story, she said: "A broadcaster that lies about its own coverage and conduct cannot claim to present the news accurately and truthfully."

On August 18, the SABC apologised to viewers and assured them of its "editorial autonomy and integrity", when asked why it had not shown the booing footage.

It would air negative footage even when it involved senior government officials, it said.

Unavailable footage

The footage, the SABC said, had "simply not been available".

The SABC said the cameraman had arrived late for the event.

"Version Two, given by news MD Snuki Zikalala on Metro FM on the night of August 18, was that the cameraman felt the incident was 'irrelevant'," Smuts said in her statement.

"According to him, he said he saw it but felt that it was irrelevant."

Smuts said: "SABC spokesperson Paul Setsetse repeated this version last week."

Zikalala also added that Singh had dented the SABC's credibility.

"Since his (Singh's) version coincides with e-TV footage, no-one will believe the SABC's constantly shifting defence," Smuts said.

"The damage done to the cameraman's professional reputation seems to bother the SABC very little.

"It is little wonder he is considering legal action."

Smuts said the SABC had been "caught out" breaking the Code of Conduct, whereby intentional or negligent distortion of the news by material omission is a transgression.

"It has been caught lying, not once but twice. It has no editorial integrity. The new CEO (Dali Mpofu) needs to take action, and he needs to do it now."

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