Ellen Tshabalala must pay her R1m in legal fees herself - Gavin Davis

DA MP calls on SABC to reject former chairperson's demand that it settle her legal bill

SABC must reject Tshabalala's R 1 million claim for legal fees

21 December 2014

It is reported today that disgraced former SABC Chairperson, Ellen Tshabalala, has sent a letter to the SABC Board demanding that the public broadcaster settles her R 1 million legal bill.

The DA calls on the SABC to reject Tshabalala's claim for R 1 million in legal fees with the contempt it deserves.

Tshabalala told the Sunday World newspaper: "The bill is over R 1 million and I paid it from my pocket. I want my money back and I know I will get it."

Nobody owes Tshabalala anything. Tshabalala's decision to take the parliamentary inquiry to court was hers and hers alone. And, when Tshabalala lied about her qualifications in 2013 she did so in her personal capacity, as an applicant to the SABC Board. 

So there is no conceivable way that the public should have to foot Tshabalala's legal bill via the SABC.

Bizarrely, Tshabalala is also claiming that she only resigned because of a racially motivated conspiracy against her. She said: 

"I resigned because the media wanted me too. I did not want to resign. Worse is that these obsessive calls and attacks were made by my fellow black journalists attacking one of their own. They were following Indian and white people's agenda."

Ellen Tshabalala must accept that she was the architect of her own demise. She is accountable for all her actions, including the money she spent on high-powered lawyers to frustrate and delay the parliamentary inquiry.

In fact, it is Tshabalala who owes the SABC money, not the other way around. According to the SABC's fraud and corruption policy (as stated on page 67 of last year's Annual Report):

"The SABC shall take appropriate steps, including legal action, to recover any losses from fraudulent and/or corrupt activities or any other wrongful act."

As Chairperson of the SABC Board, Ellen Tshabalala was paid R 936 000 in the previous financial year for attending Board meetings. This means that she was paid around R 1.5 million for the twenty-month period she was at the SABC.

The truth is that Tshabalala would not have been appointed to the SABC Board if it were known that she did not have the qualifications she claimed on her application. The R 1.5 million she was paid must therefore be paid back.

It is problematic that Tshabalala delegated the authority of SABC CEO to her partner-in-crime, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, shortly before she resigned. We hope that Motsoeneng will not be tempted to return the favour by paying Tshabalala's legal fees out of the SABC's budget.

I will be writing to the new Acting Chairperson of the SABC Board, Professor Mbulaheni Obert Maghuve, urging him to ensure that not a cent of the SABC's money is used to pay for Tshabalala's legal fees. I will also request him to take steps to recover the R 1.5 million the SABC paid to Tshabalala during her tenure as Chairperson.

Statement issued by Gavin Davis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, December 21 2014

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