SABC suspends TV show anchor after 'inappropriate behaviour' complaint

26 August 2021 - 15:18
By nonkululeko njilo AND Nonkululeko Njilo
Current affairs editor Mlunghisi Shivamba says the matter is receiving urgent attention. File photo.
Image: Waldo Swiegers Current affairs editor Mlunghisi Shivamba says the matter is receiving urgent attention. File photo.

The SABC has suspended a current affairs television show host after a female member of the production team lodged a complaint of inappropriate behaviour against him.

TimesLIVE has learnt that Rams Mabote, a former Metro FM talk show host who now anchors Media and Society, a current affairs show that airs at 9am on Sundays on DStv channel 404, is alleged to have touched the female colleague inappropriately during preparations for the August 15 show.

In e-mails seen by TimesLIVE, SABC bosses this week effectively put Mabote on suspension by asking him not to report for duty pending an investigation into the matter.

“In the wake of the complaint that I have received and the sensitivity of the matter, I have taken a decision that you may not report for duty at Media and Society with immediate effect until further notice. This includes all engagements regarding Media and Society that are scheduled this week. We shall engage the services of a stand-in presenter until the finalisation of the matter.

“We are due to discuss the matter and or incident during the coming week and we shall communicate the outcomes soonest. May I assure you that the matter is receiving urgent attention,” wrote SABC news and current affairs editor Mlunghisi Shivamba.

Mabote declined to comment when approached on Thursday.

Gugu Ntuli, group executive: corporate affairs and marketing at the SABC said: “This matter has been brought to the attention of the South African Broadcasting Corporation. As such the SABC is dealing with it within the applicable prescripts. Please note that the SABC does not engage publicly on employer and employee-related issues, especially whilst the matter is still getting the requisite attention.”

A source close to Mabote said he was deeply aggrieved by the suspension and would be insisting that all those present during the show's preparations on August 15 be subjected to lie detector tests.

The source said Mabote was also unhappy that he had been asked to stop reporting for duty, even though he had not yet been presented with a formal charge.

Another source at the SABC said the claim against Mabote stemmed from a discussion he had with the production team before the show went on air. Mabote suggested some amendments to the show’s script and merely tapped the complainant on the shoulder during discussions with other colleagues, the source said.

When the complainant told Mabote she did not want him touching her, he apologised immediately and the show aired, sources said.

Another SABC insider suggested there was bad blood between Mabote and the Media and Society production team as he was prone to questioning the quality of scripts prepared for him.

A Mabote sympathiser said they were stunned by the allegations against him as he was running an NGO, Future Kings, that mentors young men on gender equality and the negative impact of toxic masculinity.