Court rules SABC former editor may return to work

The Labour Court has instructed the SABC to allow former editor Montlenyane Diphoko to return to work, his attorney said on Monday.

"The court has upheld the findings of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration [CCMA] last year, and instructed the SABC to allow my client to return to work within two weeks," said Chris Machingura.

The court ruled a week ago that Diphoko be allowed back to work and that he be paid his salary back-dated to April 1 2010. Diphoko declined to comment.

He was editor of news international when he was found guilty of negligence and dishonesty relating to fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2009. The charges related to the payment of independent contractors.

Diphoko was accused of mismanagement and of overspending his budget by R20-million, resulting in financial loss for the public broadcaster. He was dismissed in 2010.

He took the SABC to the CCMA, which ruled in his favour last year.

The commission found that his dismissal was "substantially and procedurally unfair" and ordered that he be allowed to return to work.

The public broadcaster sought a review of the CCMA decision and approached the Labour Court, which upheld the CCMA decision.

Plot to oust him
Diphoko argued that he was not the financial officer, and was not the only person involved in authorising payments. He argued that the charges were part of a plot to oust him.

"He was never dishonest. He consulted widely and had a financial person advising him … The payment forms did not have Diphoko's signature only. It needed another person's authorisation as well. He did not override the financial officer, who was never charged," Machingura said.

He was still waiting to hear from the SABC when Diphoko would be allowed to return to work.

"It has been a gruelling three years for him. We do not know the view of the SABC regarding this recent ruling … We are still waiting to hear from them," Machingura said.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said talks with Diphoko were continuing.

"Please note that the SABC is still engaging with Mr Diphoko and his lawyers about this matter," he said. – Sapa

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