SABC told to reinstate four axed journalists

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 26, 2016

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has reportedly ruled that the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) acted unlawfully when it axed four journalists who had spoken out against the broadcaster’s controversial editorial decision not to show violent protests on television.

According to reports, the court sided with trade union Solidarity that 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 be reinstated and all disciplinary action against them dropped.

Last week, the broadcaster backtracked on its decision not show violent protests after reaching an agreement with the Helen Suzman Foundation in the Pretoria High Court, following the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s finding that the ban amounted to censorship.

“The principles that have prevailed here are freedom of speech, press freedom, the right of the public to be informed and the curbing of executive powers. We knew all along that we would win as our case was morally and juristically justified,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said in a statement.

“Our members can now return to work to do what they are passionate about, and that is to serve the public by providing information to them. Through it all they were resolute to protect the principles upon which our democracy is based – even if they had to pay a high price for it personally”.

Hermann said the union was however disappointed that the matter had to go to court in order for the actions of the public broadcaster to be proven unlawful.

“The SABC should have shown moral integrity by not having taken a decision to exercise censorship in the first instance. They should not have taken disciplinary action against our members and after the Icasa ruling had clearly indicated that its actions were unlawful,” Hermann continued.

“However, one can only run away from the law for so long. The SABC has come up against the rule of law. Constitutional principles should be an intrinsic part of a person and it should not be necessary for the courts to enforce it”.

The SABC is yet to comment on the ruling.