MPs concerned SABC board documents might have been doctored

Cape Town – ANC MP Juli Kilian on Thursday raised concerns that SABC board minutes provided to Parliament's ad hoc committee looking into the broadcaster's fitness might have been tampered with.

Kilian raised the issue during former board member Rachel Kalidass' testimony before the ad hoc committee on Thursday.

Kalidass read out a section of the board meeting minutes from July 7, 2014, the date that former chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng was appointed to the position permanently at a surprise night meeting.

"The extract that you have provided here on page six does not appear in our submission from the company secretary. Our document looks different," Kilian told her during a round of questions.

Kalidass said board members received individual bundles of board meeting minutes while they were serving.

She said her bundle is still intact and she would be happy to provide the inquiry with her original copies.

The committee's documents were provided by former SABC company secretary Theresa Geldenhuys, who testified on Tuesday.

MPs told News24 afterwards that the minutes provided to the committee were not stamped or signed.

Extract 'missing'

The section of the minutes in question concern Communications Minister Faith Muthambi's reasons for being present at the SABC building the night Motsoeneng was appointed, and her motivation for wanting to expedite the process.

Kalidass' board minutes read:

"The chairperson pointed out that a period of acting had not been the only issue considered in arriving at the decision of confirming [Motsoeneng] as COO, but mainly on its merit and the new development of... the minister's requirements to adhere to the Public Protector's report.

"The honourable minister pointed out that she had been invited to the meeting to be advised on the resolutions of the board with regards to the matter [Motsoeneng's appointment] on the agenda.

"She undertook the matter as a priority, as her 90-day-deadline had passed to implement the Public Protector's report, and did not want to be seen defying it.

"The resolution in this regard was that the board communicates in writing to the minister and the department that Motsoeneng would be recommended."

Kalidass said Muthambi was essentially taking the Public Protector's report out of context to increase the urgency to appoint Motsoeneng.

'Concern, worrying'

Her minutes also listed which board members were in support of Motsoeneng's appointment: Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe, Leah Khumalo, Vuyo Mhlakaza, the late Hope Zinde, Dr Aaron Tshidzumba and then-chairperson Ellen Tshabalala.

The board members who disagreed were Kalidass, Ronnie Lubisi and Krish Naidoo. They were of the view that normal advertising processes needed to be followed first.

Professor Bongani Khumalo and Vusi Mavuso abstained. Mavuso told the committee on Friday that he did not want to legitimise the process and was strongly against it.

Kilian said it would be very important to compare the two batches of minutes, as the differences were a "concern".

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith asked Kalidass to leave her bundle of minutes with the committee before she left.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme told News24 afterwards that if true, it was appalling that people under oath would come to Parliament and doctor minutes.

She said it would be perjury if that was the case, and criminal charges should be laid.

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