Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The Organisation Against Tax Abuse (Outa) has opened a criminal case against embattled SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng, several board members and managers at the public broadcaster on charges that include fraud, misrepresentation and racketeering.

Allegations against Motsoeneng relate to the findings by the Public Protector that he lied about his academic qualifications.

The pressure group is alleging that everyone at the SABC who knew of Motsoeneng’s misrepresentation, shared the common purpose of looking the other way instead of dealing with it, even after it was confirmed that he had lied.

"The SABC management continued to ignore Mr Motsoeneng’s misrepresentation, whilst affording him promotions, salary increases and new appointments within the SABC," Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said on Thursday.

"Outa will not stand around watching the branches being trimmed when it comes to corruption and tax abuse. We will no longer allow those guilty of abusing authority just being moved to new positions of power within government structures.

"Outa is serious about attacking the root cause of the problem, which is the lack of accountability. The only way to root out corruption and maladministration, is to hold those guilty accountable in their personal capacity," he said.

Lerissa Govender, internal legal counsel for Outa, said the persistent refusal to terminate Motsoeneng’s employment contract amounts to contempt of court.

"We submit that Mr Motsoeneng, as well as various board members and group executive members, committed racketeering and corruption.

"Through the power and authority bestowed upon them, they allowed Mr Motsoeneng to conclude contracts for which he had no authority, prejudicing the SABC and benefiting Mr Motsoeneng," said Govender.

Motsoeneng is said to have concluded the controversial R550m deal the SABC agreed to with MultiChoice, without the necessary authority.

"Further to that, the governance and nominations committee (a subcommittee of the board) approved a success fee of 2.5% of capital funding raised in favour of the SABC by Mr Motsoeneng. This resulted in the approval of payment of R11.5m on 12 September," said Govender.

"The policy change made by the governance and nominations committee is highly irregular, and this smacks of personal enrichment to the detriment of the SABC," Govender said. "Quite frankly, the chief operating officer’s role is to raise money for the corporation, and he should not be receiving excessive additional remuneration for doing his job."

Outa also referred to procurement irregularities at the SABC in the upgrading and renovations of various studios. Allegations are that in 2015 the operations committee, chaired by Motsoeneng, cancelled the previously approved tender procurement process and instituted a procurement decision for the expenditure of R39.4m to upgrade a multipurpose studio, the acquisition of which deviated from the SABC’s normal procurement processes. Outa maintains that this decision is highly irregular.

"We found a number of anomalies which point to unnecessary expenditure, gross overpayment and potential fraudulent enrichment of external suppliers," the group said.

Outa said the charges laid on Thursday follow an investigation that started in August, following the receipt of information from whistle blowers.

Outa also studied the findings of the Public Protector’s report into the irregularities at the public broadcaster, and focused on what it deemed to be the most serious allegations.

Motsoeneng has taken centre stage in a parliamentary inquiry into the mess at the SABC, and has shouldered most of the blame for the current crisis there.

Motsoeneng was recently reappointed group executive of corporate affairs, a post he held prior to becoming chief operating officer. He lost his job in the latter position in September after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal against a ruling by the High Court, setting aside his permanent appointment.

The SABC then announced that it had reappointed him as group executive for corporate affairs. This precipitated the resignation of two board members in Parliament in October.

On Monday, the High Court in Cape Town ruled that Motsoeneng was not entitled to occupy any position at the SABC until the Public Protector’s 2014 report was set aside or new disciplinary processes against him were finalised.

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