Unions sue tele­vi­sion boss for R3m

Vows to fight on after Labour Court judge rules in favour of seven of the SABC 8

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - BALD­WIN NDABA

FOR­MER SABC boss Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng faces a R3 mil­lion law­suit against him from SABC 8 jour­nal­ists but he has vowed to fight against them “un­til the end”.

After the Labour Court rul­ing yes­ter­day, Sol­i­dar­ity, which rep­re­sented Foeta Krige, the late Suna Ven­ter, Kri­vani Pil­lay and Jacques Steenkamp, said they would now make a le­gal claim of R1m against Mot­soe­neng fol­low­ing the court rul­ing. Be­mawu, which rep­re­sented Bu­sisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata and Than­deka Gqubule-Mbeki will sue for R2m.

Sol­i­dar­ity spokesman An­ton van der Bijl made it clear they would lodge their le­gal claim against Mot­soe­neng, say­ing he was re­spon­si­ble for the SABC ban­ning the show­ing and broad­cast­ing of vi­o­lence scenes on all pub­lic broad­caster’s plat­forms.

“He was a de­ci­sion-maker,” Van der Bijl said.

Be­mawu pres­i­dent Hannes du Buiss­son ap­peared more cau­tious, say­ing their le­gal claim would be lodged against the SABC, Mot­soe­neng and chief ex­ec­u­tive news and cur­rent af­fairs Si­mon Te­bele.

But the shocked Mot­soe­neng had none of it.

“It is the be­gin­ning of the bat­tle against me. This was a po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated case”.

He made the com­ments after Judge David Gush, of the Labour Court in Joburg, held him li­able for costs of the le­gal ap­pli­ca­tion lodged by the SABC 8 against their dis­missals.

Ini­tially, in July last year, the SABC 8 jour­nal­ists were rep­re­sented by two sets of trade unions, Sol­i­dar­ity and Be­mawu, but the court con­sol­i­dated them into one on Fe­bru­ary 24 this year.

Sol­i­dar­ity and Be­mawu suc­cess­fully lodged an ap­pli­ca­tion to make costs claims against the SABC, Mot- soe­neng and Te­bele on March 28.

The ar­gu­ments for costs were heard on Wed­nes­day after the ini­tial hear­ing on Au­gust 15 was post­poned fol­low­ing the SABC’s de­ci­sion to fire their lawyers.

Dur­ing the costs hear­ing, Mot­soe­neng was con­fi­dent the court would ab­solve him from the claims on the grounds that he did not ini­ti­ate dis­ci­plinary charges against the jour­nal­ists.

He also said he was not cited in any of the pre­vi­ous hear­ings in­volv­ing the jour­nal­ists and SABC, but the rul­ing yes­ter­day also placed him at the cen­tre of the dis­pute.

Mot­soe­neng, SABC and Te­bele were or­dered to pay the costs since the first ap­pli­ca­tion in July last un­til yes­ter­day on an at­tor­ney and client scale in­clud­ing the costs of “two coun­sel, jointly and sev­er­ally, the one to pay, the oth­ers to be ab­solved”.

Judge Gush did not give rea­sons for his rul­ing which irked Mot­soe­neng and his sup­port­ers.

“I re­spect the judge and the rul­ing. I am go­ing to ask my lawyers to op­pose the rul­ing. It is not the end.

“I was not part of the dis­ci­plinary hear­ings against the jour­nal­ists. I was never called to give ev­i­dence in the hear­ings.

“I did not take any de­ci­sion to charge them. It was taken by their line man­agers,” Mot­soe­neng in­sisted.

He was adamant there was a ven- detta against him and said he was per­se­cuted for in­tro­duc­ing 90% lo­cal con­tent in all SABC plat­forms while he was still in con­trol as the chief op­er­a­tional of­fi­cer (COO).

But Sol­idary has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions of a po­lit­i­cal agenda against Mot­soe­neng.

“I do not know the po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion of Mr Mot­soe­neng. We will be lodg­ing the claim against him be­cause he started the pol­icy of ban­ning the broad­cast­ing of vi­o­lent scenes in SABC.

“He was a de­ci­sion-maker,” Van der Bijl said.

Mot­soe­neng said he would ap­peal the rul­ing soon after ob­tain­ing the full writ­ten judg­ment.

Dur­ing the costs hear­ing, Mot­soe­neng’s le­gal coun­sel Ad­vo­cate Tha­bani Ma­suku said the case against his client was an at­tempt to “hit his pock­ets and to hurt his fam­ily”.

Yes­ter­day, Mot­soe­neng main­tained that was the mo­tive.

I did not take any de­ci­sion to charge them. It was taken by their line man­agers and I wasn’t called to give ev­i­dence

Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng

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