The Sunday Independent

SABC leaves R60m trail of big payouts

Thuli’s report revealed shocking abuses

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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.

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