‘I’m not here to defend myself, I’m here to tell the truth,’ Motsoeneng tells Zondo

Former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng testifies at the State Capture Commission in Parktown, 10 September 2019. Picture: Neil McCartney

Former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng testifies at the State Capture Commission in Parktown, 10 September 2019. Picture: Neil McCartney

The former COO says he stands by his decision to ban the broadcasting of visuals of violent protests.

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that he had come to the commission to tell the truth and not to defend himself.

“I’m not here to defend myself, I’m here to tell you the truth, whether wrong or right,” Motsoeneng told Zondo.

Motsoeneng said media reports on his testimony at the commission gave the impression that he appeared before the inquiry to defend himself.

He added that Zondo’s findings would determine whether he had been wrong or right.

“I’m not blaming anyone,” Motsoeneng said.

He accused the media of attempting to discredit him.

Wits Business School denied on Tuesday that Motsoeneng had lectured there as he had previously testified on his first day on the witness stand at the commission.

However, Motsoeneng on Thursday maintained that he had been invited to lecture at the school, which he said he had done on three occasions, clarifying that him lecturing at the school on an invitation did not mean he was employed there.

“Media, the way they do things it is wrong, they make themselves to appear as angels,” Motsoeneng said.

Zondo added that the media should report in a balanced manner.

Motsoeneng also addressed the decision he made to ban the coverage of violent protests in 2016.

In regard to this matter, he said journalists argued that such coverage was in the public interest, which he did not agree with because, in his view, the burning of infrastructure was not in the public interest.

Motsoeneng said the mandate of the SABC was to educate, questioning the educational value of broadcasting the burning of infrastructure.

Evidence leader at the commission advocate Thandi Norman questioned Motsoeneng over the decision to broadcast 90% local content and 10% other content, asking whether it was the policy of the SABC, which he confirmed, adding that it arose from the Broadcasting Act.

Motsoeneng said the policy underwent the relevant processes before it was approved “but also remember, the policy is a board issue,” and so it had been approved by the board.

He added that it was the role of the SABC’s policy and regulatory department to inform the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa about the policy.

Motsoeneng returned to his directive to ban the broadcasting of visuals of violent protests, saying the Act prohibited the “glamorising” violence.

“I’m not here to defend myself, I’m here to give my understanding,” Motsoeneng said.

Responding to Norman’s question whether that directive had gone through the SABC’s policy and regulatory department, Motsoeneng said: “It is not a policy, it was a decision that we have taken at the SABC.”

Motsoeneng said he had consulted former acting SABC CEO Jimi Matthews and another colleague within the broadcaster before a media statement was released which outlined the ban.

“But we didn’t say they should not cover the protests,” Motsoeneng, clarifying that the intention was that journalists should cover the protests in a responsible manner and be sensitive when doing so. He said the instruction was to not “show the physicality”.

Motsoeneng told the commission that he had taken the decision to ban the visuals, adding that he still thought it was the right decision and that he stood by it.

He, however, denied that journalists were disciplined for failing to comply with the decision.

Watch the proceedings live courtesy of eNCA:

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