SABC acting like a kangaroo court – Solidarity

Dirk Hermann says journalists simply being dismissed without a hearing

SABC dismisses journalists without hearing - Solidarity

18 July 2016

The SABC has dismissed four of the journalists, who have been suspended and against whom disciplinary action has been initiated, with immediate effect and without hearings. The four dismissed journalists are Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp. The broadcaster brought disciplinary steps against eight journalists because they had allegedly distanced themselves from the SABC’s censorship decision not to broadcast violence during protest actions. The fate of the four other journalists is not yet known. Trade union Solidarity and the SABC will meet each other in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Thursday when Solidarity would approach the court on an urgent basis to set aside the decision to dismiss the journalists, also requesting that the disciplinary process be revoked in its entirety.

The dismissal letters state that it is common knowledge that the journalists do not respect the SABC’s management and that they would continue to undermine the SABC’s authority and its management. According to the SABC, the journalists’ behaviour is untenable and the employment relationship has been terminated on 18 July.

“These dismissals follow in the wake of Icasa’s finding that the decision to censor was unlawful. If the decision is unlawful then the dismissal of the journalists, too, is unlawful. Their dismissals should be overturned. The SABC did the opposite and dismissed them because, ironically, they had distanced themselves from an unlawful instruction,” Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann said. 

“In my 20 years of involvement in labour relations I have not come across anything like this. It can be likened to a kangaroo court that executes an accused while an appeal process is still pending. In this instance, legal processes are being disregarded. It is as if the SABC’s executives believe that they are above the law and that it would be of no consequence. The The battle lines have been clearly drawn and we are going to involve the best top lawyers available. We believe in the rule of law and that unlawfulness should have consequences. We will take the matter even further by asking for an order as to costs against Hlaudi Motsoeneng in his personal capacity,” Hermann said. 

Solidarity has served papers on the Labour Court asking that the journalists’ suspensions and disciplinary hearings be suspended pending the rulings in the various legal processes against the SABC’s censorship policy. The SABC was supposed to indicate by 17:00 on Monday 18 July whether it would oppose the court action. Instead of following court processes, the SABC has dismissed the journalists unilaterally and without a hearing, informing them in a letter of their dismissal with immediate effect. This coming Thursday Solidarity was due to appear before the Labour Court to obtain an interim interdict against the suspensions and disciplinary processes. The trade union will now also amend its appeals to court, also requesting that the decision to dismiss the journalists be set aside as a matter of urgency.

Issued by Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive, Solidarity, 18 July 2016