Chris Maroleng has been dismissed as COO of the SABC. Picture: SUPPLIED
Chris Maroleng has been dismissed as COO of the SABC. Picture: SUPPLIED

The SABC has terminated the contract of COO Chris Maroleng with immediate effect.

In a short statement, the public broadcaster said: “The SABC board met on Tuesday April 23. After due consideration of the findings and recommendations of a disciplinary process, the board resolved to terminate the contract of … Maroleni [Maroleng] with immediate effect.”

Maroleng was appointed in January 2018 tasked with cleaning up the SABC. He took over from the controversial Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who was fired in June 2017 for bringing the SABC into disrepute.

An internal disciplinary hearing found that Motsoeneng had lied about his qualifications, that he purged the SABC of staff and promoted people and raised salaries without following the correct procedures.

Maroleng  is said to have been found guilty of three of four charges he faced at a disciplinary hearing. 

Reacting to the dismissal on his Twitter account, Maroleng said: “This is quite a low for my career. But I am considering my options with my legal advisers. I am going to appeal this decision to dismiss me.”

According to the documents seen by Business Day’s sister newspaper Sunday World, Maroleng was charged for his role in trying to save former SABC acting group executive for sports Marcia Mahlalela’s job at SA Rugby.

Mahlalela resigned from the SABC in a huff in late 2018 on the day she was to appear before a disciplinary committee to answer for alleged irregularities relating to the reappointment of sports presenter Robert Marawa. She later joined SA Rugby.

After noting newspaper reports that Mahlalela was facing charges before jumping ship, her new employers wrote to Maroleng  inquiring about the seriousness of the charges she was facing before her resignation.

Maroleng told SA Rugby that she was not found guilty of any wrongdoing. He told the rugby body that the charges against Mahlalela were not substantiated. He also said the SABC would have found it difficult to prove any of the allegations against her.

“Ms Mahlalela had already resigned before the issue of charges against her. In light of the above, the SABC and Ms Mahlalela agreed to abandon the disciplinary hearing and Ms Mahlalela was allowed to resign with immediate effect. The SABC now acknowledges that the envisaged disciplinary hearing was flawed,” read parts of Maroleng's response to the rugby body.

According to the SABC charge sheet, the broadcaster’s  board took issue with Maroleng’s tone in the letter and argued that he seemed to have represented the interest of Mahlalela over those of the SABC.

“My main intention was to assist Ms Mahlalela to rescue the precarious position that surrounded her employment at Saru, and not to get her unemployed, if at all that was possible,” Maroleng said in response to the charge.

He said his response on the charges faced by Mahlalela was informed by the legal advice he had received from the head of legal division, Nompumelelo Phasha.

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe argued at the hearing that Maroleng was not authorised to respond on behalf of Mahlalela. Mxakwe said Maroleng had lied to SA Rugby that Mahlalela was facing three charges while she was facing six.

Another charge related to the secondment of Carmen Schneider, an HR employee, to Maroleng's office to lead a change management programme he initiated called Sparkle.

The SABC said that Maroleng ignored HR advice by giving Schneider a R15,000 allowance to act as Sparkle project leader in defiance of an agreement with the SABC group executive for HR, Jonathan Thekiso, that there would not be any material changes to Schneider’s terms of employment, contract and salary. “He knew that it was wrong,” said the SABC.