On Tuesday the Labour Court asked SABC executives, who unlawfully fired journalists for questioning illegal instructions, to explain why they should not be held personally liable for the plaintiffs’ legal fees of more than R500 000.
The court ordered them to file an affidavit within five days indicating why they should not be liable for all or part of the costs of the application. Government pays millions in legal fees because of the recklessness of uncaring politicians and top government officials.
In this troubling economic climate, it is unacceptable for taxpayers to be burdened with footing the multibillion-rand legal bill emanating from imprudent decisions of the top brass of government and state-owned entities.
In fact, some of the decisions by SABC management, which have landed in court, such as censorship, are outright unconstitutional. That money is spent defending these decisions demonstrates widespread abuse of public resources.
The arrogance of SABC management was there for all to see yesterday when they locked out four journalists – Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp, whose sacking was reversed by the Labour Court on Tuesday – a move that was blatantly in contempt of court.
This led to activist group Right2Know staging a sit-in at the SABC head office in Johannesburg. After several hours, SABC management announced it had reinstated all seven fired journalists and instructed its legal team not to appeal the court’s decision.
That the SABC officials implicated in this mess might pay out of their pockets will serve as a warning to all in high positions that they can personally be held responsible for the abuse of power and public resources.