Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng is set to instruct his lawyers to appeal a ruling in the Johannesburg Labour Court‚ which has ordered him to share legal costs amounting to over R1 million.
Judge David Gush ruled on Friday that Motsoeneng‚ the SABC and its former acting group executive for news and current affairs Simon Tebele must pay the legal costs incurred during the dismissal of seven journalists last year.
The journalists were part of a group dubbed the SABC 8.
“I respect the judge and the ruling today [but] I’m going to instruct my lawyers to appeal the matter. For me it’s not going to be the end because I believe that this was politically motivated and malicious by those people who are involved‚ which is Solidarity and Bemawu (Broadcasting‚ Electronic‚ Media & Allied Workers Union)‚” Motsoeneng said.
“It’s not going to end today. It’s the beginning of the battle from where I’m standing.”
The former COO’s legal representative‚ Advocate Thabani Masuku‚ argued on Wednesday that Motsoeneng was not the decision maker. He said the directive to dismiss the journalists was issued by former acting group CEO Jimmy Matthews‚ who had ordered Tebele to fire the employees.
“When it comes to the issue of paying‚ I was not even part of the past court matters. The person who took that decision (to fire the eight journalists) on oath has revealed the information‚ so I’m shocked that the ruling is also against me‚ so I’m not going to leave this matter‚” said Motsoeneng.
“What is even more important for me is [that] I’m surprised [because] I wasn’t even in involved in the disciplinary hearing.”
However‚ trade union Solidarity‚ who brought the application to the Labour Court‚ still believes Motsoeneng was the decision maker‚ despite Judge Gush stating that all three parties are liable for the costs.
“This ruling means that the SABC8 (journalists) and the public of South Africa have been vindicated. But if he (Hlaudi) wants to appeal‚ he can drag on this matter for as long as he wants [but] we will oppose the appeal‚” said Anton van der Bijl‚ Solidarity’s head of fair labour practices.
“He was part of the decision and it’s been clear throughout the matter. He can appeal it or refer it to the Constitutional Court but we will proceed with the matter to hold him accountable.”
Solidarity initially wanted the former SABC COO to be held solely liable for the legal costs as he had introduced the 90% local content policy and also banned the airing of violent protests on the public broadcaster’s television channels.
Van der Bijl said they would first gun for Motsoeneng to pay the costs before approaching the other respondents.
Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Lukhanyo Calata‚ Thandeka Gqubule‚ Jacques Steenkamp‚ Foeta Krige‚ Krivani Pillay and the late Suna Venter were fired by the public broadcaster in July 2016 for speaking out after Motsoeneng banned footage of violent protests.
Around the same time‚ senior news anchor Vuyo Mvoko also lost his job after the SABC refused to renew his contract when it expired.
Source: TMG Digital.