Hlaudi's last staff purge cost SABC millions - Public Protector

2016-07-19 17:03
Hlaudi Motsoeneng (Picture: City Press)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng (Picture: City Press)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s last bungled staff purge cost the public broadcaster millions, according to a Public Protector report released in 2014.

The SABC this week sacked eight journalists for disagreeing with a decision to censor coverage of protests, before the disciplinary cases against some of them had been concluded. Trade unions Solidarity and Bemawu intend taking their cases to court.

In February 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released a report, When Governance and Ethics Fail. She found that Motsoeneng's irregular termination of the employment of senior employees had cost the broadcaster millions, due to its "procedural and substantive injustices".

Most of the cases were handled without following proper procedure. All 14 suspensions and terminations were successfully challenged in court and at the CCMA.

"The substantial amounts of money paid to SABC’s employees as settlements during protracted suspensions, terminations and/or long drawn-out labour dispute proceedings and protracted litigations caused unnecessary and avoidable costs to the national broadcaster, thus resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure," Madonsela found. 

The avoidable legal fees and settlement awards contributed to an unprecedented R29m salary bill escalation.

Madonsela recommended the SABC board take disciplinary action against Motsoeneng for misrepresenting his qualifications, abusing his power, and for the purging of senior staff.

The SABC has still not acted on Madonsela's recommendations despite lengthy court processes.

Seven SABC reporters were fired this week. The eighth person dismissed was freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko, whose contract was terminated. 

It emerged earlier on Tuesday that the broadcaster had fired Busisiwe Ntuli, a specialist producer for investigative programme Special Assignment, and Lukhanyo Calata, an SABC journalist in Cape Town. Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule confirmed later that she had also been sacked. 

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

Afrikaans news presenter Ivor Price also announced his resignation from the broadcaster in a statement saying "I can't remain silent anymore".

'Terminated with immediate effect'

Solidarity said on Monday that it wanted the suspensions of, and disciplinary action against, the SABC journalists set aside. This was pending its application to the Constitutional Court for direct access, so it could rule on the lawfulness of the SABC’s censorship instructions.

Krige, Venter, Pillay and Steenkamp would approach the Labour Court on Thursday, with Solidarity’s help. Media workers’ union Bemawu said its members, Ntuli and Calata, were also approaching the court.  

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

"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," it reads.

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 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 authorisation. They wrote to Motsoeneng expressing their dissatisfaction with how operations had been managed at the SABC recently.

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.


Read more on:    sabc  |  hlaudi ­motsoeneng  |  thuli madonsela  |  media

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


Enter the examination number or search by province or school (NSC Students) to view results.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.