National 27.7.2016 04:25 pm

SABC backtracks on seven fired journos

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng speaks to The Citizen, 4 May 2015, in his office at the SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Michel Bega

SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng speaks to The Citizen, 4 May 2015, in his office at the SABC in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Michel Bega

Solidarity’s urgent court action to hold the broadcaster in contempt of court has had the desired result.

The SABC has indicated it will reinstate, with immediate effect, seven of its formerly fired journalists, and drop an appeal against a Labour Court ruling.

This after the SABC was ordered on Tuesday to reinstate four of its journalists who were part of the #SABC8 dismissed for speaking out against the  public broadcaster’s editorial policy banning the broadcasting of the destruction of public property during protests.

It, however, blocked journalists Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp from entering the building as they made their way back to work on Wednesday morning.

“We are just waiting for the final written letter,” trade union Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said.

“But we can confirm that the SABC indicated they will reinstate with immediate effect all seven employees. The eighth person is a contractor and the SABC will decide about renewing the contract.

“They will also drop the appeal.”

Solidarity had given the broadcaster until 4pm on Wednesday to abide by the court order, or face an urgent court application which sought to hold it in contempt of court.

“There was also [going to be] an application to comply with the court judgment,” he said.

In finding in favour of the journalists, the court ruled that their dismissals were unlawful and further issued an interdict against any more disciplinary action against the four.

A separate Labour Court case for the three other journalists, Lukhanyo Calata, Busisiwe Ntuli and Thandeka Gqubule, which was expected to be heard on Thursday, now falls away.

The SABC, meanwhile, in a statement said it remains “committed to fulfilling its public service mandate”.

“The SABC management has instructed its legal team not to proceed with further legal action and the SABC will reinstate the seven dismissed news employees,” said spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

On Tuesday, an attorney for the journalists told The Citizen that taxpayers could fork out almost R1 million for the costs of the case involving the four journalists.

However, this is only if the journalists’ direct seniors at the SABC are found not to be personally liable for the court costs, which would swing the onus of the costs on to the public broadcaster.

“That’s the bare minimum. That’s conservatively calculated,” said JD Classen.

This, after the court also ordered that, within five days, the SABC general manager of radio news and current affairs, Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, and acting group executive of news and current affairs Malolo Tebele had to explain to the court in an affidavit why they should not be held liable for part or all of the costs of the application.

 

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