R2K slams SABC journalists sacking as RSG presenter resigns

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 20, 2016

The Right2Know campaign has expressed anger after seven out of the eight suspended South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists were sacked by the state-owned parastatal this week.

On Monday evening, the broadcaster announced it had terminated relations with senior investigate reporter Jacque Steenkamp, SAfm Current Affairs Executive Producer Krivani Pillay, Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) Executive Producer Foeta Krige and RSG Senior Journalist Suna Venter, before confirming the axing of Economics Editor Thandeka Gqubule, Parliamentary Correspondent Lukhanyo Calata and Special Assignment Executive Producer Busi Ntuli on Tuesday morning.

It also stated that the contract of Specialist Presenter Vuyo Mvoko, who was working at the broadcaster on a freelance basis, would not be renewed.

The eight were suspended last month for allegedly questioning the broadcaster’s decision not to show violent protests on television, which the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) found amounted to censorship.

In a statement, the campaign said the dismissals, while shocking, does not come as a surprise given the broadcaster’s running under controversial Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“It is also telling of the complicity of higher-ups, like Minister Faith Muthambi who insist on propping up the COO, in contempt of the courts and the Public Protector. This has continued as the SABC lurches from crisis to crisis, as the climate of fear for journalists grows and even as unions, civil society, opposition parties, and even factions of the governing party condemn Motsoeneng,” the statement read.

“We demand the reinstatement of all the journalists who have been fired, demand that the SABC’s illegally revised editorial policies be scrapped, that Motsoeneng is sacked from the SABC in keeping with the Public Protector’s recommendations, and that Minister Muthambi is sacked for her delinquency and collusion with Motsoeneng and the SABC Board”.

The broadcaster has meanwhile remained mum after its Afrikaans television news anchor and RSG presenter, Ivor Price, announced his resignation in a letter to Netwerk24 on Tuesday night.

According to the letter, Price said “dark clouds” starting forming at the station towards the end of May, and that journalists working on the current affairs show Monitor felt like their every moves were being monitored.

He also stated that that the working environment had become less enjoyable in recent days and that “the SABC has become a place where you can lose your job because you differ from a colleague”. He is expected to leave on August fifth.