Motsoeneng may challenge Madonsela's SABC report in court

Acting SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Acting SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Acting SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng is "seriously considering" taking the public protector's report about his conduct at the SABC for review in the high court, his lawyer said on Thursday. But this would depend on what the SABC board decided to do with the report.

The board is reportedly studying the public protector's report.

Citing a previous case, where the Mail & Guardian successfully took a public protector's report on the Oilgate scandal to court on review, his lawyer Zola Majavu said the relevant legislation allowed for court reviews of these investigations.

He added that the public protector was a mere investigator, not a final adjudicator on matters.

Motsoeneng defended himself from the damning findings of Thuli Madonsela's report into his conduct at the public broadcaster, and dared the SABC to charge him if it believes he has a case to answer.

"In fact, we welcome that recommendation, that he must be charged," said Majavu, at a media briefing on Thursday.

Majavu, who spoke on Motsoeneng's behalf, said the COO would welcome the opportunity to defend himself "in a proper tribunal", adding that the public protector's report has relied too heavily on documentation. Majavu said the public protector's report "is not gospel", and was merely "the beginning of due process".

Madonsela's report, released this week, recommended that action be taken against Motsoeneng for receiving three salary increases in one year, purging staff seen as his detractors from the SABC, and fabricating his matric certificate.

The purging of staff allegedly resulted in excessive salary payouts of R29-million, according to Madonsela, although Majavu said Motsoeneng denied the charges.

Majavu said the three increases Motsoeneng received in one year – hiking his salary from R1.4-million to R2.4-million per year – was in line with what other executives at his level earn, and were in line with additional responsibility he was given.

He added that the SABC had audited his matric certificate but the audit report had never been released.
Majavu also said Motsoeneng now had "more than a matric" because he had completed the technical equivalent qualification.

"If that report [by the SABC] was adverse to him, I'm sure he would have been disciplined. Why did the SABC not discipline him for lying about it in 1995?" Majavu asked.

'Let us be honest, and humane'
He said the public protector had been unfair in slating him for not having a matric certificate.

"It's not fair to keep referring to his matric. Let us be honest, and humane. He didn't lie. Be that as it may, that is the background relating to his qualifications. I advised him to suppress this information until the time was right, but he [Motsoeneng] has said, 'no, let's give it up'."

He added that "nowhere" in the public protector's report was it stated that the three salary increases in one year were not in line with the right salary levels for his position as an executive.

"The source of the excitement appears to be, how can a man without matric jump from R1.4-million to R2.4-million in one year? This is what we explained to the public protector … It was the applicable salary level. He was promoted – he did not promote himself."

Majavu also denied claims that Motsoeneng had purged 14 of his detractors at the SABC, and said that for each case, appropriate disciplinary measures had been taken against the staff members concerned. 

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago was at pains to point out that Thursday's briefing was held by Motsoeneng in his personal capacity, and was not a reflection of the SABC's position.

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics.  Read more from Sarah Evans

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