The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has urged the SABC to consider its role in advocating and promoting the right to expression.
“Our constitution recognises these fundamental rights as critical pillars upon which our democracy may progressively flourish,” SAHRC spokesperson Gail Smith said.
The SAHRC was responding to and finalising a complaint lodged on June 29 against the public broadcaster by Die Afrikanerbond. The complaint followed criticism of the SABC for “censoring” news footage showing images of violent protests.
The broadcaster has since reinstated seven of the eight journalists who were fired for speaking out against its editorial policy, following Labour Court action. The complaint, lodged by Jan Bosman, chief secretary of Die Afrikanerbond, detailed allegations of unfair editorial policy at the SABC and political interference in its management.
Smith said the SAHRC had been “closely monitoring, with concern, developments around recent allegations of mismanagement, poor corporate governance, questionable editorial decisions and unfair labour practices taking place at the public broadcaster”.
She added: “Afrikanerbond’s complaints regarding censorship, dismissal of journalists and mismanagement are being dealt with through appropriate channels, namely the public protector, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, and the Labour Court [and the High Court].”
Smith encouraged the SABC and its management “to stay true to the principles of maximum disclosure, openness, transparency and accountability, limiting rights only to the extent permissible in our constitution”.