Communications minister Faith Muthambi applied her mind when she decided to appoint Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the chief operating officer of the SABC, her lawyer told the Western Cape high court on Wednesday.
The court was hearing an application by the Democratic Alliance to have his appointment set aside.
Lawyer Vincent Maleka said Muthambi had been concerned by the public protector Thuli Madonsela’s finding that Motsoeneng lied about having a matric certificate.
Maleka said the minister looked at the transcript of the interview between Madonsela and Motsoeneng and was satisfied that he did not lie to the SABC about the qualification.
She believed that he was competent and had the necessary expertise to be appointed.
“The SCA [supreme court of appeal]has found that on undisputed facts, the minister applied her mind,” Maleka said.
Judge Dennis Davis said that may be so, but he was still trying to find in the court papers where Muthambi had stated what she had done about the concerns raised in the public protector’s report into governance at the SABC, “When Governance and Ethics Fail”.
The judge said his job was to determine whether Muthambi had acted lawfully and had been a rational decision maker.
“Would a rational decision maker not have probed further and said ‘I need to speak to Mr Motsoeneng or the board’?”
The broadcaster announced in July 2014 that Motsoeneng would be permanently appointed to the post of chief operating officer. This was despite Madonsela’s recommendation to the broadcaster that remedial action should include that he be suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry.
Madonsela found Motsoeneng lied about having a matric certificate, and that both his appointment as acting chief operating officer and his one-year salary hike from R1,5m to R2,4m were irregular.
Last week, the supreme court of appeal ruled that Madonsela’s findings could not be ignored and upheld an order that Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days while a disciplinary hearing into his alleged malfeasance was conducted. — News24