SABC television studios in Auckland Park. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
SABC television studios in Auckland Park. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

Former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) news group executive Simon Tebele has asked the Labour Court to disregard his affidavit in which he takes responsibility for the decision to axe the SABC 8.

Tebele’s affidavit is the document on which the legal team of former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng based its argument that Motsoeneng was not responsible for the decision that resulted in seven journalists being fired and one journalist’s contract ending in 2016.

The court is trying to determine who is responsible for the legal costs of the seven journalists. The court has reversed the dismissals of Foeta Krige, the late Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp.

Thandeka Gqubule, Lukhanyo Calata and Busi Ntuli were reinstated before their application was heard in court.

The seven journalists were axed after they spoke out against the SABC’s editorial policies and the culture of fear under Motsoeneng’s leadership.

Trade unions the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) and Solidarity asked the court for Motsoeneng, Tebele and the SABC to be held liable for the cost of the application.

The SABC claimed it could not be held liable as there was no indication its board issued a directive that the journalists be fired. It said the decisions were taken by individuals who were no longer employed by the SABC and who had made reckless decisions.

Advocate Phillip Mokoena, for the SABC, referred to the high court decision on cost in which the DA argued that individuals should be held liable to save taxpayers’ money.

Advocate Paul Pio, for Tebele, asked the court to disregard Tebele’s affidavit and rather look at the circumstantial evidence presented by Bemawu and Solidarity to determine who should pay the costs.

The circumstantial evidence presented by the unions pointed to Motsoeneng.

However, advocate Thabani Masuku, for Motsoeneng, said the SABC should be held liable as Tebele and Motsoeneng were mere employees. Judgment will be delivered on Friday.

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