Probe finds SABC was 'crippled by pain, anger and fear'

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu

A commission of inquiry into interference at the South African Broadcasting Corporation has found that the national broadcaster suffered from the “capricious use of authority and power to terrorise staff”.

The commission, set up in May last year, released its final report at the SABC offices in Johannesburg on Monday.

It found that the organisation was “crippled by pain, anger and fear”.

“The commission finds that the SABC suffered from the capricious use of authority and power to terrorise staff and deflect the corporation from its mandate and its editorial policies,” the report says.

“The inquiry found an organisation crippled by pain, anger and fear; by frustration, anxiety and apathy; and by inattentiveness, detachment and helplessness."

However, no direct link could be made between the SABC newsroom and the ANC.

“No evidence of a direct link between decisions at ANC headquarters and decisions in the newsroom, but the spectre of the ANC hovered over the newsroom,” the report says.

Evidence in its possession shows that from 2012 to 2017, SABC executives took instructions from “people with no authority in the newsroom”. The report specifically cites SABC board member Ellen Tshabalala and former communications minister Faith Muthambi in this regard.

The commission further found that staff members Nothando Maseko, Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane and Nyana Molete were “pivotal” to the execution of instructions from former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his right-hand men.

“They succumbed because of threats of dismissal from their immediate superiors,” the report says.

The commission recommended that the group executive for news and current affairs be designated as the chair of the editorial policies and ethics committee under the SABC group executive. 

The committee will serve as the highest point of upward referral by editorial line managers and seek to uphold the editorial policies at the broadcaster.

It also recommended that all newsroom staff attend at least one workshop a year on editorial policies and that a news and current affairs advisory committee be established.

On Motsoeneng’s decisions, the commission recommended that his instructions to human resources to institute disciplinary actions, dismiss, promote or appoint certain staff must be reviewed.


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