Motsoeneng: Court orders removal pending a disciplinary hearing
The high court in the Western Cape has ordered the suspension of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and that disciplinary proceedings against him be instituted.
Judge Ashton Schippers said the SABC chairperson would be called to explain if no hearing is instituted against Motsoeneng.
He took the SABC to task for ignoring the recommendations of public protector Thuli Madonsela and appointing Motsoeneng in July, saying that “the public protector is an important institution. It provides what will often be the last defence against bureaucratic oppression, and against corruption and malfeasance in pubic office that are capable of destroying the nation”.
He went on to say that a before rejecting her findings the “relevant organ of state must have cogent reasons for doing so. That is for reasons other than a preference for its own view”.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) took the public broadcaster and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi to court after a decision was taken to make Motsoengeng’s appointment permanent, despite recommendations by Madonsela that Motsoeneng be replaced after irregularities were uncovered in her probe into his tenure as SABC head.
James Selfe, the DA’s federal executive chairperson said the outcome of this case was important because it dealt with “the question of the enforceability of the public protector’s findings”.
Madonsela said publicly in July that the decision to permanently appoint Motsoeneng as head of SABC, despite her report, had taken her by surprise. She said the fact that he had misled the organisation about his matric qualifications, was a concern, as was his salary increase from R1.5-million to R2.4-million in one year and some of the appointments he was making.
He is also accused of purging staff at the SABC, leading to large amounts being paid out in labour court disputes. The SABC had allegedly told Madonsela that it wanted time to consider her findings, but had never come back to her, she said at the time of his appointment. Madonela’s findings were later dismissed by the SABC as being without foundation.
Judge Schippers on Friday ordered that the SABC board serve Motsoeneng with a notice of charges within 14 days for alleged dishonesty relating to his qualifications and charges of abuse of powers and improper conduct. The judge said Motsoeneng should be suspended on full pay pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.
It could not be confirmed on Friday that Motsoeneng is considering appealing the judgment. Neither he nor the office of the minister of Communication were available for comment at the time of publishing this article.