Solidarity to take SABC journalists' suspension to ConCourt

2016-07-04 19:27
Supporters chanting 'Hlaudi Must Fall!' outside the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg  (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Supporters chanting 'Hlaudi Must Fall!' outside the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity wants to challenge the constitutionality of the suspension of three SABC journalists at the Constitutional Court.

"We believe the case is of public interest," deputy general secretary Johan Kruger said in a statement on Monday.

"Therefore, it is imperative that we should obtain access to the Constitutional Court before the elections in order to ensure that the public has access to the necessary information to be able to make an informed choice."

Kruger said it was doing this because the SABC had failed to adhere to the trade union's request to have the trio's suspensions revoked.

Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, executive director Foeta Krige and journalist Suna Venter were served with suspension letters two weeks ago 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 SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng's decision to stop airing footage of the destruction of property during protests. This caused outrage from civil society and media organisations.

Motsoeneng cancels meeting

READ: What you should know about the SABC newsroom

Kruger said an urgent formal application would be lodged at the court this week, however, the trade union was considering possibly partnering with the Freedom of Expression Institute on the matter.

Earlier, former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi told reporters outside the SABC's offices in Johannesburg that he too intended approaching the Constitutional Court.

He planned on asking the Constitutional Court to reverse the SABC's decision to stop showing footage of violent protests.

Vavi was at the SABC for a scheduled meeting with Motsoeneng, who called to cancel minutes before the meeting was scheduled to start.

Meanwhile, the Congress of the People (Cope) has called for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to review the public broadcaster's licensing conditions.

'Flagrant abuse of power'

READ: SABC and Motsoeneng hog the headlines

It had been decided during a special meeting held on the East Rand that action should be taken against "those orchestrating shenanigans at the SABC", spokesperson Dennis Bloem said.

"Accordingly, we will approach the Public Protector, Icasa and the Broadcasting Complaints Commission to investigate the flagrant abuse of power by both the ANC and the SABC."

The party would also ask media monitoring groups to audit coverage of the local government elections and to monitor reports by the SABC in respect of the elections, it said.

Two weeks ago, civil organisations Save Our SABC Coalition, the Freedom of Expression Institute and Media Monitoring Africa approached Icasa on an urgent basis asking for its complaints and compliance committee to review Motsoeneng's decision.

A final decision on the matter was expected to be handed down by the end of the week.

Read more on:    sabc  |  media freedom

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