Madonsela's SABC report flawed - Motsoeneng's lawyer

Cape Town – The public protector’s report implicating SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng in misconduct contains various errors, his lawyer told the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

The court was hearing an application by the DA to have the decision to appoint him set aside on the basis it was irrational.

Norman Arendse said Thuli Madonsela’s report, When Governance and Ethics Fail, had "a number of inherent flaws and contradictions".

He told Judge Dennis Davis that Madonsela had chosen not to interview all available witnesses and thus did not have the full picture.

Motsoeneng was headhunted and the SABC knew he did not have a matric certificate, he said.

The SABC board and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi had taken Madonsela’s findings into account but also considered additional information which led them to believe Motsoeneng was the right man for the job, Arendse said.

The decision to appoint him was thus rational, the lawyer argued.

The broadcaster announced in July 2014 that Motsoeneng would be permanently appointed to the post of COO.

Madonsela found Motsoeneng lied about having a matric certificate, and that both his appointment as acting COO and his one-year salary hike from R1.5m to R2.4m were irregular.

Last week, the SCA ruled that Madonsela’s findings could not be ignored and upheld an order that Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days while a disciplinary hearing into his alleged malfeasance was conducted.

Motsoeneng on Tuesday filed an application to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal the SCA ruling in respect of the suspension.

According to his affidavit, he was also given notice on Monday to appear at a disciplinary hearing on October 30.

Etienne Labuschagne, for the public protector, wanted the court to hold its judgment in abeyance pending the decision of the Constitutional Court, which would likely provide clarity on the powers given to her office.

"Her reports are meant to have legal effect. The basic proposition is that the public protector’s findings and remedial action have legal effect until challenged and set aside in court," he said.

In court papers, Labuschagne argued that the respondents discredited the report in their answering affidavit rather than through a formal review application.

He said this contributed to a "culture of undermining the effectiveness and independence of the public protector".

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