SABC 4 must be reinstated, Labour Court rules

Johannesburg - Four of the SABC journalists that were axed by the broadcaster must be reinstated, the Labour Court in Johannesburg ruled on Tuesday. 

"The respondent's dismissals of the second to fifth applicants is unlawful,"  Judge Andre van Niekerk said. Van Niekerk was handing down a judgment by Judge Robert Lagrange, who presided over the matter. 

He said the four were entitled to return to work and that the SABC was interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary hearings of the four before they were dismissed.  

The four journalists are Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp. They asked the court to set aside their dismissals, and that their disciplinary processes be revoked in its entirety. The four were represented by trade union Solidarity. 

The other reporters who were notified of their dismissals last week were Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli and Lukhanyo Calata.

They had criticised the broadcaster's policy to not broadcast footage of violent protests.

Reporter Vuyo Mvoku filed papers in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, asking for an order that the SABC's decision not to "schedule" him constitutes a breach of contract.

All eight have applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the broadcaster reached an agreement on Wednesday which saw the High Court in Pretoria interdicting the broadcaster from enacting its policy.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its resolution, announced in May, to ban showing footage of violent protests.

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng initially said after the ruling that no one could tell the SABC what to do and that they would challenge Icasa’s decision in court. However, in a surprise turn Icasa said on Wednesday afternoon that the SABC agreed to comply with the ruling.

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