Ex-Cape Times editor files papers in court

2014-09-27 07:00
Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois (Cape Times via Twitter)

Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois (Cape Times via Twitter)

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Johannesburg - Former Cape Times editor Alide Dasnois has filed papers in the Labour Court following her dismissal.

According to the papers, uploaded on the Mail & Guardian's website on Friday, Dasnois claims the disciplinary hearing into her alleged misconduct was "nothing more than the rubberstamping of a decision taken some time before then by [Iqbal] Survé to engineer the removal of the applicant as editor of the Cape Times".

In her statement of case, Dasnois contends that in firing her Independent Newspapers unfairly discriminated against her.

She wanted to be compensated for the company allegedly breaching her contract and the Employment Equity Act, and for unfair dismissal.

Independent Newspapers' chief of staff Zenariah Barends on Friday said the group was looking forward to presenting its case in court.

Alleged meeting

"We have been waiting for Ms Dasnois to file her papers at the Labour Court and had wondered why it was taking her so long to do so.

"We look forward to the opportunity that this presents for us to place our case before the Labour Court," she said.

In a statement of case lodged on Thursday, Dasnois alleged that at a meeting with senior management on 14 November 2013, her alleged unsuitability as editor was raised and the names of possible replacements mooted by Survé, Sekunjalo Group executive chairperson. He apparently indicated Gasant Abarder as his preferred candidate.

The meeting was attended by Independent Newspapers' chief executive Tony Howard, general manager for the Cape, Sandy Naude, and executive editor for Independent Newspapers in the Western Cape, Chris Whitfield.

Plans afoot

"On 19 November 2013 Abarder told Whitfield that he had been offered the job of Cape Times editor by Survé and that Survé had spoken to him at length about wanting him to achieve the correct 'balance', by which Whitfield understood Survé to mean the way in which the Cape Times would cover politics and Survé 's business interests," according to Dasnois's statement of case.

"Applicant [Dasnois] was not made aware that plans were afoot at that stage already to engineer her removal as editor."

On 6 December last year, a day after former president Nelson Mandela's death, Dasnois was summoned to a meeting following the Cape Times publishing a front-page article on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's finding against then Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

Madonsela had found the minister guilty of maladministration and improper and unethical conduct in the awarding of an R800m tender to a Sekunjalo subsidiary to manage the state's fishery vessels.

Survé described story as an ‘up yours’

According to the court papers, Survé was angry about the story and allegedly described it as an "up yours" to himself.

News of Mandela's death on 5 December was on a wrap-around for the following day's issue of the Cape Times.

"Survé told the applicant that in his view she was too ideologically left wing, not business-friendly enough and therefore not suitable for the Cape Times."

He allegedly said she would be more suitable to work on a labour bulletin and that she would be moved to that publication.

Dasnois indicated she was not willing to be moved "under such circumstances". Survé then informed her she was no longer editor of the Cape Times.

On 8 December staff were told that Dasnois had been fired.

Read more on:    independent newspapers  |  alide dasnois  |  iqbal surve  |  cape town  |  labour  |  media

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