Hlaudi due in court over SABC8 legal costs

06 September 2017 - 09:00 By Neo Goba
Former chief operating officer of the SABC Hlaudi Motsoeneng. File photo.
Former chief operating officer of the SABC Hlaudi Motsoeneng. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

Embattled former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is expected to appear in the Johannesburg Labour Court on Wednesday to argue why he should not be held personally liable for the legal costs of the dismissal of the SABC8 journalists.

On August 15‚ Motsoeneng and his legal representative did not pitch in court after he was added as a respondent in the matter after trade union Solidarity sought to make him pay in his personal capacity.

Solidarity argues that Motsoeneng‚ who is the second respondent‚ made the decision that led to journalists being fired from the public broadcaster after they spoke out on issues within the SABC.

Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Lukhanyo Calata‚ Vuyo Mvoko‚ Foeta Krige‚ Krivani Pillay‚ Thandeka Gqubule‚ Jacques Steenkamp and the late Suna Venter were fired by the public broadcaster in July 2016 for speaking out against Motsoeneng's policy of no longer airing footage of violent protests.

The union is representing Steenkamp‚ Krige‚ Pillay and Venter.

The SABC's former acting group executive for News and Current Affairs‚ Simon Tebele‚ is a third respondent.

However‚ during the last court appearance‚ Tebele informed Judge David Gush that he had not been given enough time to inform his legal representative that the matter would continue. Tebele said he was also in severe pain and recuperating from an operation.

In June‚ the SABC announced Motsoeneng’s dismissal after he was found guilty by an internal disciplinary hearing of bringing the SABC into disrepute and causing irreparable damage to his employer were investigated.

To add salt to the wound‚ the SABC’s interim board wants to recoup losses incurred by the state broadcaster – by withholding the pensions of Motsoeneng and former SABC CFO James Aguma.

SABC interim board chairwoman Khanyisile Kweyama told parliament during a presentation of their progress report on their turnaround that significant losses were incurred due to Motsoeneng’s 90% local content policy.

The television division lost R183-million in advertising revenue and the radio division R29-million‚ according to unaudited figures.

Motsoeneng has since taken the public broadcaster to the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration in an attempt to overturn his dismissal.