Yet another financial blow to the cash-strapped SABC as court orders it to fork out over R900 000 in damages to former employee

2019-02-02 07:23
A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

A general view of the SABC headquarters on July 11, 2014 in Johannesburg. (GALLO IMAGES)

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The SABC has been ordered by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to pay R990 000 in damages to its former sports commentator Pieter van den Berg, who was falsely accused of racism.

Trade union Solidarity, which represented Van den Berg, described the judgment as a "huge victory", as their client was a "respected broadcaster of integrity" who had lost his job simply because a colleague leveled false and "outrageous" accusations against him. 

A technical controller made the accusuations against Van den Berg after the broadcast of a Super Rugby game in May 2016. This after Van den Berg asked the controller to "do his work correctly".

Van den Berg claims that the controller was late for his call-in time and also ignored the rules of the stadium.

READ: SABC scraps retrenchment plan

The head of Labour Law Services at Solidarity, Anton van der Bijl, said the trade union had turned to the high court to sue the national broadcaster on behalf of its member for loss of income.

"There was about another year left on Mr Van den Berg's contract and, as such, he has suffered a huge loss of income," Van der Bijl said.

"This case is yet another example of where accusations of racism are being flung about, while there was absolutely nothing of the kind".

Van der Bijl said that that racism should not be looked for where it did not exist.

READ MORE: SABC employees not paid - broadcaster blames 'bank glitch'

Meanwhile, SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said that the broadcaster was currently studying the judgment and would only comment after it had fully applied itself on the matter.

This judgment adds an additional blow to the public broadcaster's financial woes.

In January, the SABC admitted to being involved in price fixing and the fixing of trading conditions, in contravention of the Competition Act.

In a settlement agreement with the Competition Commission, it agreed to pay an administrative penalty of close to R32m. It also agreed to provide 25% bonus advertising space for every rand of advertising space bought by qualifying small agencies over three years, capped at R40m annually.

Primedia and Ster-Kinekor were also found to have contravened the regulations

Earlier this week, the SABC also failed to pay workers on time, blaming it on a bank glitch.

The public broadcaster, however, maintained that the glitch was not because of being broke. It has also announced that it has withdrawn its intentions to retrench employees.

Read more on:    sabc  |  johannesburg  |  retrenchements

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