The Western Cape High Court has ruled that Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s appointment as Group Executive of Corporate Affairs at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was unlawful.
Judge Owen Rogers ordered his immediate suspension and said he may not hold any position at the public broadcaster unless the public protector’s report is set aside or fresh disciplinary hearings exonerate him from wrongdoing.
Judge Rogers said he must face new disciplinary hearings as the proceedings initiated in October last year were “inconsistent with the Constitution”.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) brought an application last month to have him removed from his position. They also sought to have the outcomes of disciplinary proceedings in December last year set aside.
A jubilant DA leader Mmusi Maimane described it as a “devastating judgment” against Motsoeneng.
“Its about time that people like him who are employed to do work that is illegal, that undermines the public protector, that ultimately ensures that the SABC is used as their personal piggy bank, in fact be found against him,” said Maimane.
“I welcome the fact that he must pay personally. He cannot be an employee at the SABC and more seriously his next move must be to go to jail for all these personal shenanigans he’s been involved in at the SABC.”
Maimane said it was a victory for justice and constitutionalism.
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s 2014 report found that Motsoeneng had been dishonest and had misrepresented his matric qualifications, had irregularly increased his own salary, purged the broadcaster of senior staff and abused his powers.
The court found that the SABC board conducted themselves unlawfully for failing to respect the public protector’s report.
Judge Rogers said the disciplinary proceedings must be commenced through a new initiator and must be presided over by a new chairman elected by the board.
The proceedings must be concluded within two months of that.
Judge Rogers said the disciplinary hearings should be open to the public and the media, with rights of restrictions.
The DA’s James Selfe said the October 2015 disciplinary proceedings had been “a sham done with the express purpose of exonerating Mr Motsoeneng”.
“Mr Motsoeneng will now have to face a new disciplinary hearing and will have to be removed as Group Executive of Corporate Affairs and in due course, once the board has been lawfully appointed, they will have to make appointments in his stead”.
He said the DA was “a little concerned” about further appeals, but said if Motsoeneng does appeal “we would have no hesitation in getting what is called a section 49 11 application which is to make that judgement apply pending an appeal. Our view is if he pitches up for work after lunch this afternoon he will be acting illegally and in contempt of court”.
Motsoeneng was not present at court.