SABC Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has gone on “voluntary leave”, but it appears to be news to the SABC. His lawyer wrote to the DA today that he had taken “voluntary leave”. This followed the DA’s court application seeking to find the SABC guilty of contempt of court for not enforcing a court ruling that he be suspended pending disciplinary proceedings. Zola Majavu, Motsoeneng’s lawyer, wrote to DA lawyer Elzanne Jonker that Motsoeneng had on Thursday decided to go on voluntary leave . “At 12.30 today, our client has voluntarily removed himself from the workplace. He will remain on a voluntary leave of absence until the completion of disciplinary proceedings which the SABC has instituted against him.” The DA’s James Selfe said: “It is a step in the right direction, but not in itself sufficient. Being on leave is not the same as suspension. Until we are satisfied that Mr Motsoeneng is not able to interfere with witnesses or evidence – until we receive satisfactory assurances that that is the case, we will persist with the contempt application.” But SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said that he did not know that any decision had been taken. “If the lawyers are dealing directly with his lawyer, then it is better to go to the lawyers. I don’t know if he has gone on voluntary leave. I am not aware. We don’t have a category like that at the SABC, voluntary leave,” he said on Friday night. The steps against Motsoeneng follow a string of damning findings by the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in February last year. These included that he had lied about his matric, he purged SABC employees and signed off irregular salary increases. She recommended disciplinary proceedings against him. However, in July last year Motsoeneng was appointed permanent Chief Operations Officer, prompting the DA to approach the Western Cape High Court. In the first part of its application, the DA argued he should be suspended while disciplinary steps were instituted against him. Judge Ashton Schippers granted the order, but Motsoeneng approached the Supreme Court of Appeal, but was unsuccessful. The second part of the DA’s application was for Motsoeneng to be removed from his post permanently, with argument before the Western Cape High Court this week. In another application to the Western Cape High Court this week, the DA argued that the SABC was in contempt of court for not suspending Motsoeneng. Selfe expressed the fear that Motsoeneng could interfere with witnesses and evidence if he remained in the office. News 24 reported on Friday that the SABC had charged Motsoeneng with gross misconduct, abuse of his position and gross dishonesty. His hearing is on October 30. The charges were compiled by SABC board chairperson Professor Mbulaheni Obert Maguvhe.