SABC board chair applies for interdict to halt inquiry

Cape Town - SABC board chairperson Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe has launched an urgent court bid to stop Parliament's inquiry into the board beginning its work this week.

The ad hoc committee on the SABC board inquiry was due to begin its hearings into the fitness of the board at 14:00 on Tuesday.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith told News24 on Monday that the proceedings may be postponed pending the outcome of Maguvhe's late Western Cape High Court bid.

"Last night [Sunday] at 22:00 I was notified the chairperson of the SABC board had sought an interdict against the ad hoc committee proceeding with its work tomorrow [Tuesday]."

Smith said he was being briefed late on Monday by the inquiry's lead evidence adviser to hear the results of the urgent application.

The committee will still meet on Tuesday morning as scheduled to discuss the outcome of Maguvhe's application. He was compelled as the chairperson to take the outcome to the committee to discuss the way forward.

He said the committee will abide by the law if the interdict is granted, but a decision on the way forward ultimately lays with the committee as a whole.

Maghuve is the last remaining SABC board member. It needs nine members to have a functioning quorum.

'Ludicrous'

DA federal chairperson James Selfe said Maguvhe's grounds for the interdict were that some members on the committee are "prejudiced" against him.

"The whole thing is ludicrous," he told News24 on Monday. "The chairperson and other members of the SABC have been trying to intimidate people on the inquiry.

"They clearly must have learnt something from the shenanigans of Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng," he said referring to the SABC's executive head of corporate affairs.

If granted, arguments will be heard on Friday, Selfe said.

Maguvhe's complaints included allegations of bias from opposition MPs such as DA MP Phumzile van Damme and EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu.

The committee's proposed witness list has up to 30 names, including Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi, the SABC's secretary Theresa Geldenhuys, acting political editor Sophie Mokoena, the SABC 8, and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The hearings were meant to proceed for two weeks from Tuesday. The committee has until February 15 to compile a report and submit it to the National Assembly.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was not available for comment.

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