‘Our positions are simply intolerable’ – SABC journalists to ConCourt

Cape Town - Eight SABC journalists who filed an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to have their charges declared unlawful, have said their positions at the broadcaster have become "simply intolerable".

The journalists, dubbed the "SABC 8", filed the application against the SABC to have its recent policies declared "unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid", and to have their charges reversed.

- Read more: SABC journalists head to ConCourt

Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, who has worked at the broadcaster since 1992, said in an affidavit that the editorial policies imposed by the SABC in recent weeks violated both their rights and the public's right to media freedom.

"The events of the past few weeks have made our position at the SABC, and that of many of our colleagues, simply intolerable," Gqubule said.

"These events do not merely affect the journalists employed by the SABC. They prevent the SABC from meeting its obligations as South Africa’s public broadcaster."

Gqubule said that the violation of the rights of the public and SABC would continue for "literally years to come" if the court did not rule on the issues.

"This is because those in power at the SABC are intent on using every avenue available to avoid a final pronouncement on these issues."

Not consulted

Gqubule also said that journalists at the broadcaster were not consulted about the new "radical" policy, and were simply instructed to follow the policy set out by COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and then acting CEO Jimi Matthews.

Matthews has since resigned from the SABC, saying he had "compromised his values as a journalist".

The eight journalists are: Busisiwe Ntuli, Krivani Pillay, Jacques Steenkamp, Lukhanyo Calata, Vuyo Mvoko, Thandeka Gqubule, Foeta Krige and Suna Venter.

The journalists also want the suspensions of staff members Gqubule, Krige and Venter to be reversed.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi was named as a second respondent.

Icasa, Media Monitoring Africa, Save Our SABC coalition, the Freedom of Expression Institute, the Helen Suzman Foundation, and the South African National Editor’s Forum were also named as respondents.

Respondents were given until Monday to oppose the application.

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