REPORT: SABC journalists “charged” over letter


The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has reportedly charged three of its senior journalists of violating editorial policy following their penning of a letter to the broadcaster’s controversial Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

According to reports, SAfm Current Affairs Executive Producer Krivani Pillay, Special Assignment Executive Producer Busisiwe Ntuli and investigative journalist Jacques Steenkamp were charged with “liaising with the media” without authorisation, after expressing concern in a letter on Monday about recent developments at the public broadcaster.

“Our newsroom has source of derision, despair and criticism from the people that we are fundamentally accountable to. Developments over the past week have heightened this sense of fear, lack of clarity about our journalistic responsibility and low staff morale,” the letter stated.

“As journalists having to operationalise the policies of this public institution, which is important for the promotion of our democracy, we feel aggrieved that the image of our institution and our journalistic integrity continues to be compromised by unconstitutional pronouncements that erode the credibility of the SABC and the journalistic integrity of all of us who work for it”.

The letter came hours after the broadcaster’s Acting CEO, Jimi Matthews, announced his resignation with immediate effect, after Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) Executive Producer Foeta Krige, senior journalist Suna Venter and SABC business editor Thandeka Gqubule were suspended on Friday over a disagreement about a lack of coverage at a Right2Know (R2K) protest action.

Speaking at a briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Motsoeneng however stated that print media publications had a secret agenda against the SABC, and that accusations of him running the broadcaster in a “dictator-like” fashion were wrong.

He also rubbished allegations of censorship, describing it as “an English concept he does not know about”, and employees were satisfied with his leadership.

Criticism against the broadcaster had continued to mount after Motsoeneng last month announced it would no longer show violent protest on television, as it could encourage similar actions. Over the weekend, it was also reported he had barred any article likely to portray President Jacob Zuma in a bad light, from being published.

Opposition parties and civil right originations have also taken aim at the SABC with the majority accusing it of transcending into a state-broadcaster.