The Western Cape high court ordered on Friday that SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng face a disciplinary hearing and be suspended with full pay.
“The board of the SA Broadcasting Corporation Limited shall, within 14 calendar days of the date of this order, commence, by way of serving on him a notice of charges, disciplinary proceedings against … Mr George Hlaudi Motsoeneng,” judge Ashton Schippers said in his order.
“The disciplinary proceedings … shall be completed within a period of 60 calendar days after they have been commenced.”
He said if the disciplinary was not completed in the allocated time, the SABC had to deliver an affidavit to the court explaining why and when it would be completed.
Motsoeneng was entitled to five days after delivery of the affidavit by the chairman to deliver an answering affidavit.
“Pending the finalisation of the disciplinary proceedings … [Motsoeneng] shall be suspended on full pay,” Schippers said.
The SABC, its board, its chair Zandile Tshabalala and communications minister Faith Muthambi were ordered to pay the costs of the application.
The SABC on Friday said it would study the judgment. “The board will study the judgment and then decide on the way forward,” spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said.
The Democratic Alliance applied for an urgent interim interdict suspending Motsoeneng pending a review of the decision to appoint him.
In February, public protector Thuli Madonsela released a report on Motsoeneng, while he was acting chief operating officer. She found his salary increased from R1,5m to R2,4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff, and misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC. Madonsela recommended that a new operations head be appointed at the SABC within 90 days.
In July, Muthambi announced Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment. She said he was cleared of all wrongdoing by a legal firm before the decision was made. The DA then launched a high court bid to have his appointment set aside.
“The DA is delighted with the judgment,” Davis said in a statement.
“The judgment is a resounding victory for every person who values our constitutional democracy and independent public broadcasting. The suspension of Mr Motsoeneng is an opportunity to start getting the SABC back on track,” he said.
“We have argued all along that the public protector’s damning findings against Mr Motsoeneng could not be ignored. The public protector found that he had lied about having a matric certificate, purged staff members perceived as disloyal to him and fraudulently inflated salaries, including his own — from R1,5m to R2,4m in one year.
“The SABC is now compelled by the court to institute the disciplinary proceedings as it was directed to do by the public protector in February,” Davis said.
“Significantly, the judge ordered that an ‘independent person’ must preside over the disciplinary proceedings. We will be watching closely to ensure that whoever is appointed to head the proceedings is indeed impartial.”
He said the judgment was only the first part of the DA’s application. “The second part is the DA’s review application to have Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment declared invalid on the grounds that it was irrational and unlawful.” — Sapa, with TechCentral