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I don't regret championing SABC ban on broadcast of violent protests - Motsoeneng

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I don't regret championing SABC ban on broadcast of violent protests - Motsoeneng

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng

8th September 2017

By: News24Wire

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A defiant Hlaudi Motsoeneng still stands behind his South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) editorial policy, despite a ruling by the Independent Communications Authority of SA that it was illegal.

"I don't regret [championing] the policy of the organisation, because that was my job to do," Motsoeneng said shortly after the Johannesburg Labour Court ordered that he personally pay a portion of the legal costs of the SABC 8.

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The former SABC chief operating officer told journalists that he had instructed his lawyers to appeal the judgment, adding that unions Solidarity and Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) had a politically motivated agenda against him.

"It's not going to be the end, because I believe that this was politically motivated and malicious by those people are who are involved... It is not going to end today. It is the beginning of the battle, from where I am standing.

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"I believe in that policy, because when we talk about that policy we were dealing with issues of radical transformation... I am not apologetic about it," he said.

Motsoeneng, former head of news Simon Tebele, and the SABC must each pay a portion of the legal costs over the wrongful dismissal of the SABC 8.

The late Suna Venter, Foeta Krige, Krivani Pillay, Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata, Vuyo Mvoko and Jacques Steenkamp were fired by the public broadcaster in July 2016 for speaking out against Motsoeneng's policy which banned the broadcasting of footage of violent protests.

Seven of the eight journalists were subsequently rehired.

'Shocked'

The broadcaster, Motsoeneng and Tebele have been ordered by Judge David Gush to pay over R1-million in legal costs for Solidarity and Bemawu, who represented the dismissed journalists in their court case.

Mostoeneng said that while he respected the judge in the matter, he believed that the judgment was wrong.

Flanked by his supporters as he addressed the media, Motsoeneng defended his policy, proclaiming his innocence.

"When it comes to the issue of paying, I'm asking myself, I was not involved in the past court matters. I was not put there to come and answer myself and give real evidence... I'm shocked that the ruling is against me."I respect the court and the judge himself, but I disagree with him. My belief is [that] we must transform South Africa. That is what keeps me going. I can see justice is not done. I need justice done," he said.

Motsoeneng appealed to the public to bring back his 90% local content policy.

"If we don't stand and fight for what we believe in, who is going to fight for us?" he asked.

Motsoeneng was removed as COO after the Supreme Court of Appeal, in September 2016, rejected his bid to appeal the Western Cape High Court's November 2015 ruling, declaring his appointment irrational, and setting it aside.

'Victory for all South Africans'

In June, the SABC announced Motsoeneng's dismissal after he was found guilty by an internal disciplinary hearing of bringing the broadcaster into disrepute and causing irreparable damage to his employer.

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

In March, Icasa approved recommendations to nullify the SABC’s editorial policy of 2016, which banned the airing of footage of violent protests.

Trade union Solidarity, however, said that it was ready for Motsoeneng's appeal. The union said the public, as well as the SABC 8, had been vindicated by the judgment against the three respondents.

"This victory is not only our victory. It is a victory for all South Africans. It underlines the necessity that government officials, irrespective of how high and mighty they consider themselves to be, should be held accountable for their decisions.

"It also confirms the basic principles of transparency and accountability as set out in the Constitution. We are delighted with the verdict, which could also serve as a precedent in cases against comparable government officials," head of Solidarity's Centre for Fair Labour Practices Anton van der Bijl said.

SABC spokesperson Kaiser Kganyago and Bemawu could not immediately be reached for comment.

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