Ex-Cit­i­zen edi­tor stands by his ac­tions

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - HEIDI GIOKOS @hei­di­giokos

FOR­MER edi­tor of The Cit­i­zen, Steven Mo­tale, said all the de­ci­sions he took while edi­tor were cor­rect and he stands by them de­spite the pub­li­ca­tion dis­miss­ing him last year.

But Tim Bruin­ders, defence ad­vo­cate for The Cit­i­zen, la­belled Mo­tale’s ac­tions as “ju­ve­nile”.

Mo­tale came un­der fire last year after pub­lish­ing a let­ter apol­o­gis­ing to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma over how the me­dia had re­ported on him. He was also crit­i­cised for pub­lish­ing other con­tro­ver­sial ar­ti­cles in­volv­ing high-pro­file per­son­al­i­ties.

Mo­tale was dis­missed with no dis­ci­plinary hear­ing after The Cit­i­zen man­age­ment in­sisted he had failed to fol­low pro­ce­dure.

Mo­tale’s le­gal team took the mat­ter to the Labour Court in Joburg in an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion to chal­lenge his dis­missal yes­ter­day.

Mo­tale’s ad­vo­cate, Tem­beka Ngcukaitobi, said the role of an edi­tor was vi­tal and without one it was im­pos­si­ble for a pub­li­ca­tion to run as it should.

After the pro­ceed­ings, Mo­tale told The Star there was no pol­icy at The Cit­i­zen re­gard­ing high­pro­file in­di­vid­u­als and there­fore his dis­missal was un­called for.

“No pol­icy is re­quired in re­la­tion to high-pro­file in­di­vid­u­als be­cause prin­ci­ples of jour­nal­is­tic in­tegrity are uni­ver­sally ap­pli­ca­ble,” said Mo­tale.

Tham­pelo Kharam­et­sane, the at­tor­ney for Mo­tale, said Mo­tale had wanted a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing but was de­nied one.

“He had al­ways wanted his dis­ci­plinary hear­ing to be con­ducted and he was un­for­tu­nately de­nied it. We be­lieve that we made a very good case be­fore the court re­gard­ing the fail­ure of The Cit­i­zen to con­duct the dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.” Mo­tale’s le­gal team re­mains adamant that his ter­mi­na­tion was not only un­law­ful but there was in­ter­fer­ence in his job as an edi­tor.

Bruin­ders, how­ever, said the pub­li­ca­tion lost faith in Mo­tale after he made his con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions.

“Why should the em­ployer not ter­mi­nate your con­tract after you ac­cused them of be­ing racist? Trust and faith no longer ex­ist in the em­ployee from the em­ployer,” said Bruin­ders.

The defence ar­gued that whether the pol­icy was un­con­sti­tu­tional or not, this should not be a dis­ci­plinary case.

“What the re­spon­dent did was against the pol­icy. If this is un­con­sti­tu­tional or not, it is not a case about dis­ci­plinary,” said Bruin­ders. Judg­ment was re­served.

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