Maguvhe to be summonsed after failing to appear at SABC inquiry

SABC office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
SABC office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town - SABC board chairperson Mbulaheni Maguvhe failed to appear before Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the fitness of the board on Thursday, and will now be summonsed.

Maguvhe was scheduled to appear at 16:00 on Thursday to be interviewed by the ad hoc committee.

Committee chairperson Vincent Smith said Maguvhe would now be summonsed to appear on Tuesday, December 13.

Maguvhe and the SABC delegation walked out of the first day of hearings into the board on Wednesday, saying he was being discriminated against because he had not received necessary documents in Braille. He is partially sighted.

Smith reaffirmed that Parliament had sent out its notice three weeks ago, on November 17, asking if witnesses would need translations.

SABC secretary Theresa Geldenhuys replied the next day and requested all documents and correspondence be provided so that the SABC itself could convert them into Braille.

"From our interactions today, we’ve been informed that the SABC has got the machine to convert into Braille," Smith said on Thursday.

"We’ve also been informed that in the normal course of their business, this facility was indeed used to assist the professor in board meetings.

"Therefore, if the SABC board was here today, it would have been useful if they would have been able to respond to it."

He said they could only speculate as to the reason why Maguvhe had not presented himself before the committee, as they had walked out "of their own volition".

'Defiance, subversion, contempt of Parliament'

Smith said the committee had two options; proceed in his absence, or issue a summons in terms of the Constitution, read in conjunction with the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act of Parliament.

EFF MP Fana Mokoena said the Professor has appeared in parliamentary committees before, and had never demanded documents converted into Braille.

ANC MP Jabu Mahlangu said Maguvhe had asked to appear on Thursday specifically, and that Parliament should not allow defiance.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said Maguvhe would be allowed to have legal assistance on the day.

ANC MP Makhosi Khoza said the authority of Parliament was being subverted and that they must use any legal means they could to get clarity on the issues.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said Parliament was being disrespected.

The committee was unanimous, and a summons will be sent for Maguvhe to appear on Tuesday.

Smith also said that the SABC's reluctance to provide pertinent documents, including a skills audit into the broadcaster, could be considered contempt of Parliament.

He would instruct Parliament's legal team to take the matter of the withheld documents forward.

On Friday, the ad hoc committee will interview former board member Krish Naidoo, former acting GCEO Phill Molefe, and former group executive for risk and governance Itani Tseisi.

The committee also resolved to invite former SABC chairpersons Ben Ngubane and Ellen Tshabalala to the hearings following witness testimonies on Thursday, in which they both featured prominently.

They were not on the original list.

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