Johannesburg Judge Fritz van Oosten on Friday finally released – a week after his judgment – the reasons why he dismissed freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko’s case against the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), in which Mvoko sought to compel the public broadcaster to air his programmes.
Although Mvoko has a contract with the SABC, he only gets paid if his programmes are aired.
The public broadcaster stopped using Mvoko’s material after he wrote an article criticising the SABC’s stance banning the broadcast of violent images during protests in which state property was being destroyed.
In the article published in The Star newspaper, Mvoko described his personal experience of editorial interference and also mentioned SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng as a source of conflict. He also accused former heads of news Jimi Matthews and Snuki Zikalala of similar editorial interference.
On Friday Judge Van Oosten, who ruled against Mvoka last week, said in the North Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg it was not necessary for him to read his judgment. He said he would instead hand out copies.
Mvoko and his lawyer did not attend the brief matter, which took less than five minutes to dispose. Last week Mvoko said he intended to appeal once he had the reasons for the judge ruling against him.
In the judgement, Van Oosten said he threw out Mvoko’s court application to compel the SABC to schedule his programmes for broadcast because he had a pending disciplinary matter regarding the article he wrote for The Star.
“An investigation by the SABC against Mr Mvoko, regarding the meaning and impact of an article written by him and published in the STAR newspaper, is pending,” said Judge Van Oosten.
“Although representations on behalf of Mr Mvoko have been submitted to the SABC, their final decision in the matter is still pending and has probably been delayed by the launching of this application. The finding of this court is that the SABC duly followed the complaint procedure provided for in the contract between the parties.
“The constitutional challenge to the SABC’s actions, in view of the fact that the investigation is still pending, and, awaiting the final decision by the SABC, is premature and no sustainable grounds for interference by this court have been advanced,” said Van Oosten.
Mvoko, who has a three-year contract with the SABC, is the only one of the eight journalists sacked by the public broadcaster for opposing its ban on visuals depicting violence whose matter has not been resolved.
All the other fired journalist have been reinstated and are back at work. The ban on the footage has since been rescinded.
– African News Agency (ANA)