Sanef and R2K welcome ruling to reinstate sacked SABC journalists


The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) and Rigtht2Know Campaign have described the Labour Court’s ruling to reverse the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s dismissal of four journalists, as a significant victory and one which reaffirms media freedom in South Africa.

Earlier today, Judge Andre van Niekerk said the public broadcaster acted unlawfully when it dismissed 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 for questioning the decision not to air violent protests on television.

He also ordered the broadcaster to reinstate the four with immediate effect, and to drop any disciplinary action imposed against them.

In a statement, Sanef sub-committee Chairperson Sam Mkokeli said the ruling “sends a strong message that censorship has no place in a democracy” and that the journalists ought to be commended for standing up to the broadcaster “in defence of our hard-won democracy”.

“We now call on the SABC to abide by this court decision and allow the four journalists involved in the court action, and the other four who have also been dismissed, to resume their roles without further harassment and intimidation,” Mkokeli said.

He stated that the broadcaster has shown on a number of occasions that it is executive “lacks the skills to lead an independent and professional public broadcaster in line with its constitutionally-derived mandate” as well as being determined “to ingrain a culture of fear that is harmful to media freedom and democracy”.

“It is clear that the SABC is in dire need of ethical leadership, which Parliament and government can assist in putting in place,” he said.

In a similar reaction, the Right2Know campaign said the ruling comes as a blow to controversial SABC Chief Operations Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s attempts to install “a climate of fear and intimidation at the SABC”.

“This firm judgement is another stunning vindication for those who have sided with the dismissed journalists and the cause of press freedom,” R2K said in a statement.

“Their struggle and the struggle for the soul of the SABC will continue as long as the stifling work conditions persist and as long as the ham-fisted rule of the political lackeys in upper management and the board remains the order of the day. We need a radical response to the prevailing status quo at the SABC to ensure that the broadcaster is insulated from political interference and becomes a place that is conducive to good journalism.

The broadcaster is yet to comment on the ruling.


IMAGE sourced from Solidarity on twitter