Johannesburg – Trade union Solidarity will on Thursday ask the Labour Court to set aside the SABC's decision to dismiss four of the eight journalists it suspended.
Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp were sacked on Monday, despite the fact that their disciplinary proceedings were still under way.
The union would ask for an interim interdict against the suspensions and disciplinary processes, chief executive Dirk Hermann said.
It would amend its appeal to the court, to ask that the decision to dismiss the four be set aside as a matter of urgency. They would also ask for a costs order against SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
“In my 20 years of involvement in labour relations I have not come across anything like this,” Hermann said on Tuesday.
“It can be likened to a kangaroo court that executes an accused while an appeal process is still pending. In this instance, legal processes are being disregarded. It is as if the SABC’s executives believe that they are above the law.”
According to Solidarity, the dismissal letter states: “it is common knowledge that the journalists do not respect the SABC’s management and that they would continue to undermine the SABC’s authority and its management.”
The broadcaster said the journalists' behaviour was untenable.
Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, Krige and Venter were previously served with 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 Motsoeneng's decision to stop airing footage of the destruction of property during protests. This caused outrage from civil society and media organisations.
The SABC subsequently charged three other journalists for "liaising with the media" without authorisation from their bosses. The three - Busisiwe Ntuli, Pillay and Steenkamp - wrote a letter to Motsoeneng expressing their dissatisfaction with how operations had been managed at the SABC recently.
The broadcaster had also suspended or charged journalists Lukhanyo Calata and Vuyo Mvoko.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA announced on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its decision to stop broadcasting footage of violent protests.
Motsoeneng said after the ruling that they would challenge the decision and that nobody could tell the SABC what to do.