The management of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have on Tuesday withdrawn the redundancy notices handed out to news staff earlier in the day, after the employees allegedly refused to go on air and demanded an urgent meeting with management.
During the hastily convened meeting with Phathiswa Magopeni – group executive for news and current affairs – the disgruntled employees aired their grievances in no uncertain terms.
Senior news journalist and Prime Time anchor Chriselda Lewis then took the floor, telling Magopeni in an impassioned speech to go back (to her office) and do what she was supposed to do, instead of retrenching people.
Watch the explosive clip here:
— Thabiso Sithole (@ThabisoSithole) November 17, 2020
“Sis Pat, no. No! When you came here, this was not what we expected from you,” Lewis told Magopeni.
“We can’t sleep. It’s headed towards Christmas,” she said, with colleagues chanting “we can’t breathe”.
“This ship, we were here before you were even appointed to come here,” Lewis also said.
Shortly afterwards, Magopeni told staff in her division that she could not continue issuing letters of redundancy in the current climate at the public broadcaster.
SABC Group Executive of News Phatiswa Magopeni has told staff in her division that she cannot continue issuing letters of redundancy under the current climate. Details in the news at 6pm on @METROFMSA
— Lindi Sirame (@Lindi_Sirame) November 17, 2020
Social media was quick to react to the news, with almost universal praise for Lewis speaking her mind, and for Magopeni listening and heeding her call.
My heart goes out to all SABC employees, this is just so sad. The amount of jobs which will be lost because of this restructuring breaks my heart! ???? just saw videos being played where journalist @Chriseldalewis is speaking out for her colleagues! Strength to you all
— Mbali Thethani (@MbaliThethani) November 17, 2020
Every work place deserve people like Chriselda Lewis who speak up for their colleagues, take on mismanagement and ill-treatment even though they know their jobs are safe. SABC management is led by thugs, they must go and the retrenchemnts must be stopped! Bravo @Chriseldalewis ????
— Akani Mangena (@AkaniMangena) November 17, 2020
I have always seen fire in @Chriseldalewis but today, I stan. You’re a fighter sisi. A spade is a spade. Your institutional memory intact and your warning to someone I truly love and respect, sis Pat, much welcome. The @SABCNews revolution was indeed televised.
— Lukhona (@LukhonaMnguni) November 17, 2020