Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Charges in disciplinary hearing against SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng suddenly reduced to just 3; Hlaudi pleads not guilty as media is shut out of hearing.

The SABC's disciplinary hearing against its chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng has turned into yet another public broadcaster farce with the charges leveled against its highly controversial and famously matricless boss suddenly deleted from the charge sheet from 6 to just 3, to which Hlaudi Motsoeneng pleaded not guilty - while the media got shut out of the proceedings.

The SABC's contentious and bizarre disciplinary hearing of Hlaudi Motsoeneng that suddenly resumed this week after it was "terminated" and "cancelled" last week is losing credibility, transparency and integrity.

It comes as the disciplinary process now suddenly has to be completed by this coming Saturday according to a High Court order (which said it must be done within 60 days), which is not really leaving enough time for due process to be followed.

Already the disciplinary hearing chairperson changed twice: First advocate William Mokhari who abruptly disbanded the disciplinary hearing last week on Thursday saying it would serve no purpose other than being an "academic" exercise - only for the hearing to be re-established and starting again this week with a new chairperson, Willem Johannes (EJ) Edeling.

Already the disciplinary hearing changed prosecutors three times: First labour lawyer Sandile July who was fired after alleged irregularities with the appointment, then Mponyana Ledwaba who abruptly left last week, and now Tumisho Phalane as the 3rd prosecutor to work on the disciplinary hearing.

Tumisho Phalane told the hearing and chairperson on Monday that he doesn't have enough to prepare. Chairperson EJ Edeling said the case must proceed because the process needs to conclude by Saturday at the latest.

On Tuesday the chairperson barred the media from attending the proceedings.

The SABC is also suddenly just going ahead with 3 of the original list of charges against Hlaudi Motsoeneng with no indication of why not more charges are being made from the litany of alleged transgressions contained in the Public Protector's scathing report about Hlaudi Motsoeneng that was made public in February 2014.

The SABC's disciplinary hearing against Hlaudi Motsoeneng has now been dramatically reduced, instead of being expanded, to just allegations of gross dishonesty, gross misconduct and abuse of power.

Among the charges dropped and suddenly gone and deleted from the latest charge sheet include the extensive report from the Public Protector of how Hlaudi Motsoeneng was directly involved in allegedly increasing his ballooning salary several times per year.

Ar R3,784 million per year, Hlaudi Motsoeneng now earns more than president Jacob Zuma.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng pleaded not guilty to all three of the remaining charges in his disciplinary hearing.

On Tuesday Jabulani Mabaso, head of human resources was the first to testify against Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Lorraine Francois, an executive auditor was the second to testify against Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng's disciplinary hearing was supposed to start on 30 October but was abruptly postponed to 1 December.

It was then again postponed to 2 December. It ran for only 2 and 3 December after being "cancelled".

It was then reconvened for an unknown reason and set to start on 7 December. On 7 December is was again postponed to 8 December which became the first real day of the disciplinary hearing.

It now raises serious concerns as to whether a judicious and proper disciplinary hearing can take place given the little time left before Saturday when the period of 60 days - as ordered by the High Court - is reached.

While the SABC had a whole two months to start and conclude proceedings in a disciplinary hearing against Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the public broadcaster pushed it to the very brink, making it likely very difficult to thoroughly have witnesses and others give testimony, for more additional and the original other 3 charges to be brought, and for due process and due diligence to be followed.

All of these things are casting a shadow of Hlaudi Motsoeneng's disciplinary hearing which is continuing today with 2 further witnesses expected to be called.