SABC barney about jail exposé

2002-06-21 08:40

Johannesburg - The SABC has refused to deny or confirm an alleged high-level conflict between itself and head of news Barney Mthombothi.

An SABC source says Mthombothi has been given an ultimatum: face a disciplinary hearing or resign.

According to an SABC staffer who wants to remain anonymous, top management of the corporation has been unhappy for quite a while with some of the decisions taken by Mthombothi.

"Suspicions are that it is a political issue. This week's airing of Special Assignment apparently was the last straw," said the employee.

Mthombothi was apparently asked to make changes to the material of Special Assignment's Grootvlei prison exposé. He apparently refused.

The SABC source says Peter Matlare, group executive of the SABC, came under pressure and approached Mthombothi.

Still an employee

"Cases such as these are private matters between the various parties - in this case, the corporation and a senior staff member," said Dr Ihron Rensburg, head of SABC communications on Thursday.

Rensburg said "these cases" would remain confidential until such time as it became necessary to tell the public.

According to Rensburg, Mthombothi did not leave his position at the broadcaster. "He is still an employee - and a senior staff member at that - of the SABC.

"Of course, this is not an admission nor a denial of any negotiations in progress between the corporation and Mr Mthombothi," said Rensburg.