SABC introduces new evidence at parliamentary inquiry

2017-02-21 17:04
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The SABC has, at the 11th hour, introduced new evidence at the inquiry looking into its board, Parliament's ad hoc committee has heard.

Parliament's legal adviser, Anthea Gordon, told MPs that the SABC's 140-page response to the SABC inquiry's interim report contained new evidence, but that it could not form part of the formal proceedings in the traditional sense.

She said the executive summary and the document were not signed.

She also said that the new evidence couldn't be tested and examined by MPs, and so could not be treated the same as evidence given under oath.

The SABC's response was very damning of the inquiry, and almost "dismissed the process". The fact that it was unsigned was, therefore, a problem, she said.

"Nothing is stopping the inquiry from recommending another forum to follow up on the SABC's new evidence," Gordon added.

SABC's complaints:

Among the broadcaster's complaints about the process were:

- That the committee had "displayed specific bias and did not take any reasonable steps to ensure that it received balanced information during the inquiry, as the majority of the witnesses who testified were ex-SABC employees and board members, and civil society groups who had always viewed the SABC in a negative light, and that this had led to a pre-determined outcome;

- The decision not to afford Hlaudi Motsoeneng an opportunity to appear before the committee was in contradiction of the audi alteram partem rule (listen to the other side);  

- The use of information that the evidence leader had collected on behalf of the portfolio committee had not been appropriate in light of the fact that the SABC had contested that committee’s objectivity;

- The inquiry was accusatorial rather than inquisitorial; and

- Additional submissions made had not been shared with the SABC to give them an opportunity to comment and respond.

'Who wrote this?'

MPs also questioned who had actually authored the response, given that the SABC no longer has a board or chairperson.

IFP Narend Singh asked if there was a letter accompanying the response, and who had signed it.

ANC MP Hlomane Chauke said someone at the SABC should take ownership of the document.

Gordon said the document's email address indicated acting CEO James Aguma, and she recommended emailing Aguma to ask who would take ownership of the submission.

Chairperson Vincent Smith agreed, and said he would write to Aguma.

He once again repeated that Aguma had declined the opportunity in December to address the allegations when he was asked to do so. 

Smith said the SABC deserved the right to respond to witness evidence, but that new evidence was not permissible.

Read more on:    parliament  |  sabc  |  cape town  |  sabc inquiry

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