SABC leaves Simon Tebele out in the cold with legal fees
The public broadcaster opts not to cover its former head of news’s legal costs
Former SABC head of news Simon Tebele was left out in the cold on Tuesday, having to personally ask for a postponement in a Labour Court matter.
This was after the broadcaster informed him that it would no longer pay for his legal representation. Tebele officially took responsibility for the dismissal of journalists, but trade union Solidarity argues that it was former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s decision to fire them.
The court will hear arguments on September 6 as to who should pay for the matter brought by seven SABC journalists who successfully challenged their dismissals.
The SABC’s interim board has received a mandate to clean up the public broadcaster.
The SABC was plunged into turmoil under the leadership of Motsoeneng, who has since been fired.
Suna Venter, who died recently, Foeta Krige, Krivani Pillay, Jacques Steenkamp. Thandeka Gqubule, Lukhanyo Calata and Busi Ntuli were all fired after they spoke out against what was happening at the SABC under Motsoeneng. The contract of an eighth journalist, Vuyo Mvoko, was terminated.
The public will for the first time be given an opportunity to have their say on who sits on the board of the SABC
The journalists received the annual Guardian of Governance Award on Tuesday from the Institute of Internal Auditors SA for their bravery.
Tebele told the court that he was informed on Monday that the SABC’s attorneys would no longer represent him and that he did not have time to brief his own lawyer.
Sandile July of Werksmans Attorneys, appearing for the SABC, said he was also briefed only on Monday, after the SABC’s formal legal team withdrew on Friday. Neither Motsoeneng nor his lawyer was in court on Tuesday.
All five members of the SABC’s interim board — veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu, former ANC MP Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, human rights lawyer Krish Naidoo, journalist John Matisonn and the former CEO of Business Unity SA, Khanyisile Kweyama — handed in their CVs for consideration to the permanent board.
The public will for the first time be given an opportunity to have their say on who sits on the board of the SABC.
Parliament’s communications portfolio committee met on Tuesday to discuss the process to be followed in appointing the 12-member board. It received 363 applications for the positions and will begin short-listing candidates next week.
Committee chairman Humphrey Maxegwana said that short-listed candidates would be subjected to thorough public scrutiny and qualifications verification by Parliament.
He said the public would be given five working days to comment on the candidates.
Only 36 candidates (three candidates per post for the 12 vacant positions) will be interviewed from the nominations.