Radio station’s DJs warned not to talk about VBS

2018-09-23 11:56
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A concerned Phalaphala FM radio DJ says things are tense at the station after staff were allegedly barred from speaking about VBS Mutual Bank, Vhavenda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and the Vhembe District Municipality in Limpopo.

“It seems we are captured. This is making our lives at work difficult, especially for the DJs and producers – we are living in fear,” said the DJ, who did not want to be identified.

The DJ blames certain members of the station’s management team, and alleges that they had business interests with the bank, the king and the municipality.

This followed a letter from human resources, of which City Press has a copy, threatening to discipline Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers’ Union (Bemawu) shop steward Tshililo Khanari after his Facebook post in July “regarding the provincial working committee of the ANC response over the VBS matter and further expressed views regarding Khosikhulu Toni Mphephu Ramabulana in relation to the VBS matter”.

“In terms of their disciplinary and grievance procedure policy, management believes the conduct harms or undermines the interest of the SABC, hence the management is contemplating instituting progressive disciplinary action against Mr Khanari,” reads part of
the letter.

The radio station’s human resources manager, Ronald Mphephu, who allegedly sent the letter to the staff, told City Press that he wasn’t aware of the letter, and referred questions to SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu.

Momodu did not answer her phone, nor did she respond to text messages requesting comment.

DA communications spokesperson Phumzile van Damme told City Press on Friday that this incident proved the SABC board still had a lot of work to do.

“We trust that this matter will be investigated and someone will be held accountable,” she said.

Bemawu spokesperson Hannes du Buisson promised to call back, but failed to do so.

VBS Mutual Bank made headlines two years ago after it agreed to lend former president Jacob Zuma the money he needed to pay back the state for certain upgrades to his home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Earlier this year, the SA Reserve Bank placed VBS under curatorship as it faced a liquidity crisis after municipalities withdrew their deposits, and it has since been alleged that R1.5bn was looted by executives.

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