2 July 2016
Solidarity to Hlaudi – withdraw charges and suspensions officially
In a letter addressed to SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, trade union Solidarity today requested him to confirm reports that are alleging that he would be prepared to review the circumstances surrounding the suspensions. Should that be the case, Solidarity then requests that the suspensions be lifted officially and the charges of all six employees be withdrawn. Solidarity is also asking that the original censorship instruction be repealed.
According to Solidarity Chief Executive Dirk Hermann, the trade union’s legal teams would not hold back preparations to contest the suspensions and charges until the suspensions of Foeta Krige, Thandeka Gqubule and Suna Venter and charges against all six employees had not been formally withdrawn. Solidarity acts on behalf of the employees.
“The SABC’s original censor instruction not to broadcast visual and sound material of violence during protests, however, lies at the core of the issue. This instruction is unlawful and undermines constitutional principles such as freedom of speech and the public’s right to information.
Solidarity will continue with its legal action even if it has to take the matter all the way to the Constitutional Court to have the instruction invalidated. If we do not do this, journalists will always have to work under the sword of censorship,” Hermann said.
The letter addressed to Motsoeneng follows below:
SOUTH AFRICAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION LTD
01 JULY 2016
TO: CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
ATT: MR. HLAUDI MOTSOENENG
TO: ACTING GROUP EXECUTIVE: NEWS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS
ATT: MR. SIMON TEBELE
TO: SABC NEWS HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER
ATT: MR. MANNIE ALHO
RE: DISCIPLINARY HEARING S VENTER, JD KRIGE, T GQUBULE –MBEKI, K PILLAY, MB NTULI AND J STEENKAMP
1. The above matter, our letter dated the 27th of June 2016 and media publications on the 01st of July 2016 which states that the SABC’s COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng (“Motsoeneng”) will review the suspended employees’ suspension, has reference.
2. We confirm that we act on behalf of which Ms, S Venter, Mr. JD Krige, Ms. T Gqubule-Mbeki (“the suspended employees”) and Ms. K Pillay, Ms. MB Ntuli, Mr. J Steenkamp. On the aforesaid authority we address this letter to you.
3. Whilst the alleged review of the suspensions is laudable, we submit that fair labour practices would dictate that the suspensions be retract in the interim whilst the suspensions are reviewed alternatively as a result of the review process.
4. As per our letter dated the 27th of June 2016 we reiterate that the suspended employees are intricately involved with the reporting on and monitoring of the upcoming local elections. It is of the utmost importance that they resume with their duties in order to ensure truthful and unbiased reporting on all matters, including any possible future protests, relating to the upcoming election.
5. Furthermore, Krige is the executive producer of RSG Current Affairs. As such he has a wide range of responsibilities which he is eager to fulfil in order to ensure that news reaches the listeners of RSG without being censored or being influenced by unlawful and unreasonable considerations. Due to his terms of suspension, a very real threat exists that important operational knowledge that he has, will be absent to the detriment of the SABC and its listeners. In order to protect the interests of the SABC and RSG listeners, he offers to liaise with relevant personnel in order to assist with handing over certain important projects as soon as possible.
6. Venter similarly has various projects that need het immediate attention in the run – up to, and planning for the coverage of the local municipal elections. Two important projects that are urgent are:
6.1 A project in Port Elizabeth for two persons, of which she is one, to plan for live transmission of events relating to the upcoming elections.
6.2 A project in the Western Cape relating to the real time coverage of the local municipal elections.
7. The truthful and transparent coverage of the elections in order to protect the integrity thereof is of the utmost importance. As the national broadcaster, the SABC is tasked with ensuring that events are reported without fear or favour. The suspended employees play a vital role in ensuring that this happens.
8. We accordingly repeat our demand from you:
8.1 Confirmation that you will review the suspensions of the suspended employees;
8.2 The unconditional retraction of the suspension of the suspended employees, specifically in the event that a review is conducted of the suspended employees’ suspension;
8.3 A retraction of the charges against all the charged employees; and
8.4 An unconditional retraction of the instruction pertaining to the provisions of the SABC Editorial Policy as well as the directive not to broadcast visuals/audio of the destruction during protest action(s).
Our rights remain reserved, and we look forward to your urgent reply herein.
ANTON VAN DER BIJL
HEAD: CENTRE FOR FAIR LABOUR PRACTICES
Statement issued by Dirk Hermann, Chief Executive: Solidarity and Anton van der Bijl, Head: Solidarity Centre for Fair Labour Practices, 2 July 2016