Solidarity to challenge dismissal of four SABC journalists in court

BY CHARL BOSCH - JULY 19, 2016

Trade union Solidarity has said it would submit an urgent application to the Labour Court to have the dismissal of four South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists set aside on the grounds of unlawful labour practises.

This comes after the public broadcaster announced on Monday evening that letters of termination had been sent to 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, following their questioning of the decision not to show violent protests on television.

It however remains unclear whether similar action will be taken against four other journalists, Economics Editor Thandeka Gqubule, Parliamentary Correspondent Lukhanyo Calata, Specialist Presenter Vuyo Mvoko and Special Assignment Executive Producer Busi Ntuli, who were charged and suspended for what the broadcaster described as undermining behaviour.

Last week, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) found that the ban amounts to censorship and that it must be overturned by July 18th.

Speaking in a statement, Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said the broadcaster has however opted to do the opposite by firing the four journalists in question “who, ironically, had distanced themselves from an unlawful instruction”.

“It is as if the SABC’s executives believe that they are above the law and that it would be of no consequence. We believe in the rule of law and that unlawfulness should have consequences. We will take the matter even further by asking for an order as to costs against [Chief Operations Officer] Hlaudi Motsoeneng in his personal capacity,” Hermann said.

The matter is expected to be heard on Thursday with the union’s lawyer, Anton van der Bijl, saying it would also seek payment for Krige, Venter, Steenkamp and Pillay’s legal fees.