Veteran journalist Perlman quits SABC

Veteran South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalist John Perlman has resigned, shortly after the news that Nikiwe Bikitsha, his co-presenter on SAfm’s AM Live, was leaving the public broadcaster, Business Day reported on Tuesday, citing “SABC sources”.

Perlman’s resignation is related to the controversy over the blacklisting of certain commentators from being interviewed on the public broadcaster.

Perlman confronted SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation) spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago on the air, saying that he, Perlman, knew there was a blacklist—something Kganyago had denied. The SABC’s chief executive, Dali Mpofu, ordered a commission of inquiry into the allegations.

The commission found that SABC staff were instructed to exclude certain commentators from commenting on some issues. Among those on the list were Business Day political editor Karima Brown, political analysts Aubrey Matshiqi, Moeletsi Mbeki, Elinor Sisulu and Zimbabwean newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, who is also the chief executive of the Mail & Guardian.

The commission found that the SABC’s denial of a blacklist was “misleading by omission”.

It found that Perlman had been presented with an official statement from the SABC that he knew from personal experience to be untrue, and had correctly chosen to confront it.

The commission found an atmosphere of fear in the SABC newsrooms, which was not conducive to journalistic independence.

Perlman told the Mail & Guardian Online on Tuesday morning that he would be ready to speak to the media “in two days”.

“I need to think,” he said.

The SABC on Tuesday confirmed the resignation of Perlman, but would not provide details or reasons.

“All I know is, yes he has offered his resignation, but we as the SABC are not commenting as yet,” said Kganyago.

Perlman’s resignation came late Monday afternoon, he told the South African Press Association.

Business Day wrote that it “understood” that Perlman was leaving the SABC because it was unwilling to address the commission’s finding that there was “an atmosphere of fear and distrust” at the broadcaster.—Sapa

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