SABC told to reinstate suspended journalists as new acting CEO is announced


Trade union Solidarity has reportedly given the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) until Friday 15h00 to reinstate three journalists suspended on Friday, or face legal action.

The broadcaster came under renewed fire last week after suspending its business editor Thandeka Gqubule, Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) Executive Producer Foeta Krige and the station’s producer and journalist Suna Venter, who had expressed concern over the lack of coverage given to a protest action held by the Right2Know campaign this past Monday.

Speaking on the station’s morning current affairs show Monitor on Tuesday, Solidarity CEO Dirk Herman said the suspensions not only goes against the principle of freedom of speech, but also undermines their ability to do their job.

“Three principals are at stake, namely the freedom of speech, the right to know and the constitutional limits imposed on executive power,” Herman said.

“If you look at the suspensions in this case, you have to determine whether those involved adhered to the core constitutional principles as outline by the executive, who may not give an instruction to undermine constitutional principles. We are of the opinion that the first instruction was unlawful and that the employees did nothing untoward”.

He said the union would argue that the suspension not only be withdrawn, but declared unlawful as the trio, being employees of the public broadcaster, have a “mandate to convey information to the public”.

“Our request to the SABC is that the original instruction be withdrawn, the suspension be lifted and the provision of other details. If our demands are not met, or we don’t receive any feedback by given the time or date, we will be incline to proceed with legal action and fight it all the way to the Constitutional Court if needs be,” Herman said.

The broadcaster has since confirmed the appointment of its Financial Head, James Aguma, as the new Acting CEO following the surprise resignation of Jimi Matthews on Tuesday.

It has meanwhile been reported that SABC journalist have threaten to down tools with some allegedly accusing controversial Chief Operations Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, of presiding in a dictator-like fashion and getting rid of those not agreeing with him. An urgent internal “re-diffusion meeting” was called at 12h00 although its remains unknown if any details would be made available.

Motsoeneng has faced renewed calls to resign since announcing last month that no violent protests would be shown on television, as it encourages others to do the same. This led to the public broadcaster being severely criticised for failing to show the violence in Tshwane last week, with Motsoeneng also allegedly banning any news which could portray President Jacob Zuma in a bad light.