SABC 8 have all been fired

Johannesburg - Seven of the SABC 8 have officially been fired and one's contract was terminated, News24 confirmed on Tuesday.

On the heels of the dismissal of two SABC reporters on Tuesday, and four on Monday, another employee confirmed she was also axed. 

"It was to be expected. It is par for the course. The struggle goes on," economics editor Thandeka Gqubule told News24. 

The eighth person was freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko. His contract with the corporation was terminated. 

It emerged earlier on Tuesday morning that the broadcaster fired Busisiwe Ntuli, a specialist producer for the investigative programme Special Assignment, and Lukhanyo Calata, an SABC journalist in Cape Town.

Four others, Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp were informed of their axing on Monday.

The public broadcaster sacked the 8 for speaking out against censorship. They have approached the Constitutional Court for direct access to reverse the SABC’s decision. They were recently presented the Nat Nakasa award for fearless journalism.

'Urgently proceeding to Labour Court'

Krige, Venter, Pillay and Steenkamp would be approaching the Labour Court this week with their union Solidarity. Media workers’ union Bemawu said its members, Ntuli and Calata, were also approaching the court.  

The SABC apparently fired Ntuli and Calata for speaking to the media, Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union president Hannes du Buisson told News24.

They continued to do this and it became intolerable for the SABC, he said. 

"We are proceeding to the Labour Court on an urgent basis. We are busy with the application as we speak."

The interdict was intended to halt action against reporters pending an application before the Constitutional Court regarding the SABC's policy to not broadcast footage of violent protests.  

Calata is the son of struggle activist Fort Calata, who was one of the Cradock Four.

Du Buisson told News24 that Ntuli and Calata's situation was different from that of the other eight.  

"I can't speak for Steenkamp, but Ntuli and Calata were not suspended. They were still doing their jobs."

Analyst and media personality Eusebius McKaiser shared the SABC’s letter to Calata on Twitter. 

“It is common cause that you have made it known to the SABC that you will continue to disrespect the SABC, your employer,” it reads.

“It has now become clear to the SABC that you have no intention to refrain from your conduct of undermining the SABC and the authority of its management. In the premise your continued acts of misconduct have become intolerable. Your employment with the SABC is thus terminated with immediate effect."

Ruling on censorship awaited

Solidarity said on Monday it wanted the suspensions of and disciplinary action against several SABC journalists set aside. This was pending the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the lawfulness of the SABC’s censorship instructions.

Gqubule, Krige and Venter were served suspension letters after they disagreed with an instruction during a diary conference not to cover the Right2Know campaign's protest against censorship at the SABC.

That protest was in response to SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision, announced in May, to stop airing footage of the destruction of property during protests. This caused outrage from civil society and media organisations.

Following this, the SABC charged Ntuli, Pillay, and Steenkamp for "liaising with the media" without authorization. They wrote to Motsoeneng last weekend, expressing their dissatisfaction with how operations had been managed at the SABC over the last few weeks.

Calata joined a protest march outside the SABC’s offices in Cape Town earlier in the month. 

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its resolution to ban the broadcasting of violent protests.

Motsoeneng said after the ruling that no one could tell the SABC what to do and that they would challenge Icasa’s decision in court.

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