Hlaudi feels the heat

Charges could be laid as SABC aims to get back its mil­lions

The Times (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - NEO GOBA mshana.

THE SABC’s in­terim board is on a mis­sion to claw back mil­lions of rands paid to dis­graced for­mer COO Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng.

It is also think­ing of lay­ing crim­i­nal charges against the fired boss.

The board, ap­pointed by President Ja­cob Zuma in March, plans to sue Mot­soe­neng for the re­turn of a R11.4-mil­lion bonus he re­ceived last year. The bonus was linked to a deal that granted Mul­tiChoice ac­cess to the public broad­caster’s ar­chives — with­out the au­tho­ri­sa­tion of the then SABC board.

The deal, worth R533-mil­lion, gave Mul­tiChoice con­trol of the SABC’s ar­chives for five years.

Mot­soe­neng’s bonus on this deal was R33-mil­lion, to be paid out over three years. The R11.4-mil­lion was the first por­tion and was paid in Au­gust.

“We have handed over Mr Mot­soe­neng’s mat­ter to the SIU (Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit) to fast-track [the in­ves­ti­ga­tion] so that we can [lay] crim­i­nal charges and ... re­cover [the money] if the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is that there are re­cov­er­ies to be made,” SABC in­terim chair­man Khany­isile Kweyama told The Times.

Kweyama said the board was keen to wrap up the mat­ter be­fore its term expires in Septem­ber.

An­other em­ployee privy to the SABC dis­cus­sions said Mot­soe-

‘ I don’t want to talk about those is­sues. You must just wait and see

neng would not be off the hook even if he paid back all of the bonus.

“Be­sides the R11.4-mil­lion bonus, he could also be asked to re­pay funds he made avail­able to the ‘SABC Thank You’ con­cert held in Or­lando, at which an im­pres­sion was cre­ated that the artists were pay­ing for the show,” said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion.

“In fact, Mot­soe­neng ar­ranged the pay­ment from the SABC and he also — with­out ap­proval from any­one — paid mu­si­cians R50 000 each, which amounted to about R9-mil­lion in to­tal, from SABC funds.”

The con­cert was de­signed to ap­plaud the public broad­caster’s 90% lo­cal-con­tent pol­icy, which was or­dered by Mot­soe­neng.

“We are not go­ing to wait for the SIU to fin­ish [its] in­ves­ti­ga­tion. If there are al­le­ga­tions of fraud and cor­rup­tion the SABC can di­rectly open crim­i­nal charges be­cause these pay­ments were made with­out the board’s ap­proval,” said the source. The SABC board re­cently told par­lia­ment that the 90% lo­cal­con­tent pol­icy had caused losses for the public broad­caster. Its flag­ship ra­dio sta­tions — Metro FM, 5FM, and Good­hope FM — and tele­vi­sion chan­nel SABC3 had suf­fered a de­cline in au­di­ences and rev­enue.

Mot­soe­neng is said to own two free­hold prop­er­ties in Gaut­eng and Lim­popo worth about R5-mil­lion each. If the SABC can­not re­cover the money di­rectly from him, the board in­tends to at­tach these prop­er­ties to set­tle the pay­ment.

Mot­soe­neng was fired from the SABC on June 12 af­ter be­ing found guilty of mis­con­duct for com­ments he made at a me­dia brief­ing in which he crit­i­cised SABC board mem­bers and a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee look­ing into al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

He was charged with con­tra­ven­ing the terms of a sus­pen­sion when he held the brief­ing. He had been sus­pended fol­low­ing find­ings of the public pro­tec­tor re­lat­ing to him mis­rep­re­sent­ing his qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

He has since gone to the Com­mis­sion for Con­cil­i­a­tion, Me­di­a­tion and Ar­bi­tra­tion in an at­tempt to over­turn his dis­missal.

Asked for com­ment, Mot­soe­neng said: “I don’t want to get in­volved in those things, I am busy and I don’t want to talk about those is­sues. You must just wait and see. I don’t want to re­spond to the wind.”

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