SABC's Phathiswa Magopeni says she was not given chance to probe how interdicted show was aired

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Phathiswa Magopeni faces a disciplinary hearing.
Phathiswa Magopeni faces a disciplinary hearing.
Veli Nhlapo, Gallo Images, Sowetan
  • Phathiswa Magopeni says the SABC is conducting an investigation through her disciplinary hearing. 
  • Magopeni says she was not given an opportunity to conduct an investigation into how an interdicted Special Assignment was aired. 
  • Advocate Nazir Cassim is heading the investigation. 

The SABC head of news Phathiswa Magopeni has accused the broadcaster of conducting an investigation through a disciplinary hearing.

Magopeni is currently on the stand at her disciplinary hearing after Special Assignment aired an interdicted show.  She told the head of the hearing, advocate Nazir Cassim that she was not given an opportunity to investigate how the programme was put on air. 

"I have not spoken to any of the teams. I haven't had [a] proper investigation with interviews."

Magopeni said she only managed to produce a preliminary report based on reports she received from the news and video entertainment departments. These, she said, provided different versions of what happened. 

"I would still need to do further investigations based on that there are two versions being presented."

Magopeni said on the day she was charged, she had gone to a meeting with SABC chief executive Madoda Mxakwe with the intention to ask that a a joint investigation between news and video entertainment be conducted. 

"Had we done the investigation prior to the charged and disciplinary hearing, probably the witnesses who came here might have been different. We are only getting information now and not through the investigation. 

"Right now, we are here conducting an investigation through a disciplinary hearing. That's my feeling in all the days I've been sitting here."

READ | SABC head of news tries to have disciplinary hearing collapsed, then withdraws application

Magopeni said she was covering elections when Makwe asked her to account.  

"To prove that I took this seriously, when the CEO said we must priorities this, within two hours I pulled a report. The circumstances under which I was operating were stressful."

The SABC lawyer Michael Bill asked why she hadn't instituted an investigation as she was charged, but not suspended from work. 

"How could I do an investigation when there is a conclusion that I was in the wrong?"

She was also questioned about a message she sent to Merlin Naicker, group executive for video entertainment, accusing his unit of interfering with the interdict and therefore putting her job on the line. Magopeni said she was under pressure when she sent Naicker the message. 

Asked whether she had apologised to Naicker for the message, she said: "Not yet."  

Bill asked whether she blamed Naicker for the episode being aired. 

"How would I know if there was no investigation that was done? I don't know. No investigation has produced information that Mr Naicker was responsible or I was. I am the person who has been singled out. Other people like Merlin, whose platform hosts the show, are not charged."

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