The Sunday Independent
SABC leaves R60m trail of big payouts
Thuli’s report revealed shocking abuses
THE REPORTED R18 million golden handshake awarded to Frans Matlala was not the first time the broadcaster has paid substantial amounts of money to employees following protracted suspensions.
Matlala, who was the suspended SABC chief executive until last week, was apparently due to blow the whistle on a R40m studio that has been described as a “white elephant”.
Matlala’s R18m payout follows similar payouts arising from illegal terminations, drawn-out labour disputes and protracted litigation which, according to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, “have caused unnecessary and avoidable costs to the national broadcaster, thus resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.
In her report on the SABC (“When Governance and Ethics fail”), Madonsela ruled that avoidable legal fees, settlement awards and acting allowances for persons in suspension contributed to the SABC’s unprecedented salary bill escalating by R29m.
Other officials given settlement fees include previous acting chief executive Phil Molefe and his successor, Lulama Mokgobo.
All of the above settlements were estimated to have exceeded more than R60m in taxpayers’ money wasted as a result of acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s mismanagement.
This amount might increase to more than R100m if the eight currently suspended journalists are offered packages.
The following are examples that Madonsela cited in her report:
1. Motsoeneng directly initiated the termination of Bernard Koma’s employment. Koma was the lead witness at his disciplinary hearing. He received a 12-month settlement award at the CCMA.
2. Montlenyane Diphoko’s termination of service was directly initiated by Motsoeneng after he also testified against him at his disciplinary hearing. Diphoko was reinstated after a CCMA ruling, almost three years later.
3. Motsoeneng directly initiated the termination of the employment of Hosia Jiyane, who also had testified against him in his disciplinary hearing. Disciplinary proceedings against him dragged on for two years before he won the case.
4. Dr Saul Pelle won his case at the Labour Court for reinstatement but SABC refused to reinstate him and offered him a 12-month settlement payout.
5. Ntsiepe Masoetsa was reinstated after her labour dispute case against the SABC had dragged on for three years.
6. Cecilia Phillips was suspended for four months without charges being brought.
7. Motsoeneng directly initiated Sello Thulo’s termination of employment after he had testified against him at his disciplinary hearing. According to Madonsela, Motsoeneng instructed the disciplinary committee to “get that man out of the system”.
8. A substantial settlement award was offered to Thabiso Lesala through his attorney at the CCMA and he was asked to withdraw his case.
9. Charlotte Mampane’s employment contract was terminated prematurely in March 2012 instead of October 2013 for being redundant. A settlement award was given to her.
10. Phumelele NtombelaNzimande’s employment contract was terminated prematurely, and she was awarded a settlement.
11. Gugu Duda has been indefinitely suspended since September 2012 without expeditious finalisation of the disciplinary proceedings against her.
12. Sundi Sishuba was suspended for two-and-a-half years without charges.
13. Loraine Francois was suspended for months but won her case at the CCMA and was reinstated.
14. Nompilo Dlamini won her case in the Labour Court before the SABC appealed the ruling at the high court. It lost.
Records, according to Madonsela, showed the majority of these cases were handled without following proper procedure as all 14 suspensions and terminations were challenged successfully.