Six of the axed SABC journalists reported back to work on Thursday after the public broadcaster did an about-turn, saying that it would not proceed with further legal action.
The journalists arrived early on Thursday morning with huge smiles on their faces. They hugged and held hands as they entered that SABC building in Johannesburg.
The six journalists are Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay, Busisiwe Ntuli, Thandeka Gqubule and Jacques Steenkamp.
They were fired after they had criticised the broadcaster’s policy to not show footage of violent protests.
Ntuli said she was surprised by the shocking about-turn from her employers.
“We were expecting to go to court today. We don’t know what to expect, but I am happy that I am back to work,” she said.
Krige, Venter, Steenkamp and Pillay were refused entry by the SABC on Wednesday morning when they reported for duty, despite the labour court ruling that their dismissals were unlawful.
The broadcaster, however, backtracked later on Wednesday, after trade union Solidarity threatened more legal action.
The SABC responded in writing that the journalists could return on Thursday morning. It said it would “not proceed with further legal action” and would reinstate all seven of the journalists it had fired.
Three of the journalists who were recently fired — Ntuli, Gqubule and Lukhanyo Calata — would have argued their cases in the labour court on Thursday. However, the SABC said they would also be allowed back into their offices and called on them to drop their court case.
Calata would report back to work in Cape Town.
Freelance reporter Vuyo Mvoko filed papers in the high court in Johannesburg on Friday, asking for an order that the SABC’s decision not to “schedule” him constituted a breach of contract.
All eight had applied for direct access to the constitutional court to challenge the SABC’s decision to censor coverage of protests.