SABC hearings postponed indefinitely



The SABC laid disciplinary charges against journalists because they distanced themselves from a censorship instruction.

Trade union Solidarity will go to court to revoke the suspensions of three senior SABC journalists and to test the constitutionality of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s censorship instruction.

The SABC has postponed the disciplinary hearing of the three suspended employees, Thandeka Gqubule, Foeta Krige, and Suna Venter, indefinitely, Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann said on Sunday.

The hearing was due to start on Monday. However, the three employees, among those represented by Solidarity, remained suspended. The mere postponement of the hearings was not acceptable and the disciplinary process should be abolished in its entirety, he said.

Some of the protesters at the SABC. Picture: Charles Cilliers

Some of the protesters at the SABC. Picture: Charles Cilliers

Solidarity would also approach the Constitutional Court this week for direct access to test the constitutionality of the censorship instruction. Also during this week Solidarity would approach the Labour Court to obtain an interdict against the SABC’s disciplinary process, pending the Constitutional Court case.

The SABC laid disciplinary charges against the three journalists because they had allegedly distanced themselves from a censorship instruction. Under the instruction no coverage could be given to the Right2Know campaign’s protests against Motsoeneng’s ban on broadcasting violent protest action.

Read More: High noon for Motsoeneng

The disciplinary hearings of the other three employees, Busisiwe Ntuli, Jacques Steenkamp, and Krivani Pillay, who were charged after sending a letter to Motsoeneng objecting to the direction the SABC had taken, was due to take place on Friday but this hearing was also postponed. Those three had also been charged because the contents of the letter was leaked to the media.

“The censorship instruction is clearly unlawful. It is in direct violation of the principles of freedom of speech and the public’s right to know. The unlawfulness of the instruction makes the entire suspension unlawful. We cannot allow it that journalists who merely want to do their job remain suspended for having embraced South Africa’s constitutional principles.

“What adds to the urgency and significance of this case is the fact that South Africans are going to the polls on 3 August and they have the right to know what is happening in the country. It is not up to the public broadcaster to decide what the public may or may not know,” Hermann said.

Meanwhile, Solidarity expected the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) ruling on the SABC’s censorship decision this week, possibly as soon as Monday.

“If the ruling goes against the SABC’s censorship decree, then the charges against and suspension of the employees must be revoked immediately. Hlaudi Motsoeneng must then be charged and suspended immediately,” Hermann said. – African News Agency (ANA)

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