Thursday, April 23, 2015

SUSPENDED. High Court orders the SABC to immediately suspend Hlaudi Motsoeneng; controversial COO to appeal judgement again.

The Western Cape High court has just ordered the SABC for a second time to immediately suspend the SABC's controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer (COO).

The Western Cape High Court has again ordered the immediate suspension of Hlaudi Motsoeneng and ordered the SABC to immediately start disciplinary proceedings against Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago didn't immediately respond to a media enquiry on Thursday afternoon regarding the High Court's re-affirmed suspension judgement.

Later on Thursday the SABC said in a statement on behalf of Prof. Obert Maguvhe, the SABC's acting chairperson that "the SABC will lodge an immediate appeal on today's ruling by the Western Cape High Court to suspend its chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng".

Later on Thursday Hlaudi Motsoeneng's lawyer, Zola Majavu, confirmed that Hlaudi Motsoeneng would appeal the judgment.

In October Judge Ashton Schippers in the Western Cape High Court ruled that Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended immediately by the SABC.

It followed after the Democratic Alliance filed the application, demanding that Hlaudi Motsoeneng be suspended by the SABC following the Public Protector's scathing report on the SABC and Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

The Public Protector's report implicated Hlaudi Motsoeneng in maladministration and corruption at the public broadcaster, finding that "Hlaudi Motsoeneng should never have been appointed at the SABC" and that he should be suspended.

According to the Public Protector, Hlaudi Motsoeneng lied about having a matric certificate and made up symbols for a matric certificate he knew he didn't have and couldn't produce.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng was implicated as having been involved in getting rid of everyone who testified against him in an earlier disciplinary hearing at the SABC, and his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4 million at the SABC in one year.

The Public Protector's report advised the SABC to appoint a new COO within 90 days. Instead the SABC appointed Hlaudi Motsoeneng in the position permanently.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng appealed the court decision ordering the SABC to suspend him.

Judge Ashton Schippers said that "organs of state cannot ignore the Public Protector's remedial action".

The court ordered the SABC to start disciplinary proceedings againt Hlaudi Motsoeneng to be conducted by an independent person.

"Good administration of the SABC and openness and accountability, demand his suspension," Judge Ashton Schippers ruled, saying that the allegations against Hlaudi Motsoeneng is serious.

Judge Ashton Schippers ordered the SABC and the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, to pay the legal costs of the court application.

In today's judgement again ordering Hlaudi Motsoeneng to be immediately suspended, Judge Ashton Schippers granted the leave to appeal‚ but said that Hlaudi Motsoeneng should immediately be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

"It is common cause that the appeal process might take a considerable period of time and that a suspension of the order will mean that Hlaudi Motsoeneng will remain in the position of chief operating officer whilst the appeal process runs its course.

"[Therefore] the disregard of the Public Protector's findings and remedial action by the SABC and the minister will remain unremedied. In my view‚ this state of affairs also constitutes irreparable harm to the public interest."

"By contrast‚ Hlaudi Motsoeneng will not suffer irreparable prejudice. As stated in the judgment‚ any prejudice that he might suffer will be significantly contained - he will suffer no loss of remuneration and the suspension is of a limited period."

"And he may be found not guilty on the allegations of misconduct that have been hanging over him for years. Such a result could only serve the interests of Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ as well as those of the SABC."