Two trade unions want former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng to personally pay the legal costs they incurred in their fight to help eight SABC journalists who were unlawfully fired.
He should take responsibility for the decision to terminate the journalists’ contracts, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices Anton van der Bijl said in a statement on Monday.
Solidarity and the Broadcasting Electronic Media Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) on Monday filed papers in the Johannesburg labour court asking it to hold Motsoeneng personally liable for legal costs.
On 26 July, judge Rob le Grange ordered that those responsible for the dismissals should submit affidavits explaining why they should not be held personally liable for the legal costs.
Van der Bijl said although SABC head of news Simon Tebele ultimately carried out the instruction to dismiss the journalists, it was done at Motsoeneng’s instruction.
Van der Bijl said Motsoeneng’s actions caused the SABC grave embarrassment.
Seven SABC reporters were fired in July. The eighth person was freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko, whose contract was terminated.
“The labour court’s ruling proves that his decision to dismiss the journalists was unlawful. This case will ensure that he is held accountable.”
Le Grange ruled that the dismissals of Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp were unlawful and that they be reinstated.
Solidarity represented Krige, Venter, Pillay and Steenkamp. Bemawu represented Busisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata, and Thandeka Gqubule.
The broadcaster sacked them after they questioned Motsoeneng’s decision to ban footage of violent protests.