Trade union Solidarity confirmed yesterday it had received the court-ordered affidavits from SABC managers Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane and Simon Tebele on Tuesday night, but it has dismissed their explanations for why a decision was taken to fire SABC journalists as “very vague” and “unclear”.
On July 26, the Labour Court ordered the two managers to provide reasons for why they should not be held personally liable for the legal costs of Solidarity and the case of four journalists against the SABC for unfair dismissal. This was after the court ruled the dismissals were unlawful and the journalists had to be reinstated immediately.
Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp were fired after opposing the public broadcaster’s recent ban on airing certain forms of protest violence. According to Anton van der Bijl of Solidarity, the SABC pair stated in their affidavits that Tebele made the decision to dismiss them, but no clear explanation was given.
“The sworn affidavits only contain very vague assertions. The court’s order is clear: reasons must be given as to why the decision to proceed with the dismissal of journalists in the face of pending litigation does not amount to reckless contempt of the court.”
Van der Bijl said former acting SABC CEO Jimi Matthews was furthermore “proffered as a scapegoat” for the initial suspension of three of the journalists.
“Solidarity will continue with its application before the court to hold the responsible officials liable,” Van der Bijl said.
Meanwhile, the SA National Editors’ Forum yesterday expressed concern over the firing of yet another squad of journalists – this time by the Gupta-owned broadcaster ANN7. Five journalists were fired on Tuesday, reportedly for taking part in demonstrations in solidarity with colleagues dismissed in June.
The first group to be axed had objected to being named as parties to a company letter to four banks that had revoked banking services to ANN7’s owner company, Oakbay Holdings.