SABC interdict will be used in fired #SABC8 journalists' Labour Court case

The Black Friday demonstration organised outside the SABC's Auckland Park offices. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Black Friday demonstration organised outside the SABC's Auckland Park offices. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The high court interdict against the SABC’s policy to not show footage of violent protests will be used in Thursday’s Labour Court case in which four of the employees that were fired by the broadcaster will be challenging their dismissal.

“It would impact our case because to a certain extent the SABC and court are of a view that the current policy is unlawful,” the lawyer for the four employees, Solidarity’s Anton van der Bijl told News24.

“Therefore anything that follows from that policy, such as the disciplinary hearings, the suspensions and the dismissals are unlawful and unconstitutional.

“Our priority [in the Labour Court] is that the dismissals and suspensions be set aside and that they go back to work.”

The SABC this week sacked journalists for disagreeing with a decision to censor coverage of protests before the disciplinary cases against some of them had been concluded.

Seven SABC reporters were fired this week. The eighth person was freelance journalist Vuyo Mvoko, whose contract was terminated.

Surprise move by SABC
It emerged on Tuesday that the broadcaster had fired Busisiwe Ntuli, a specialist producer for investigative programme Special Assignment , and Lukhanyo Calata, an SABC journalist in Cape Town. Economics editor Thandeka Gqubule confirmed later that she had also been sacked.

Four others – Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp – were informed of their axing on Monday.
They are the employees approaching the Labour Court on Thursday.

All eight reporters have applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court. They recently updated their urgent application requesting the court to intervene over their dismissals. The journalists, dubbed the “SABC 8”, initially approached the court on Friday to have the SABC’s conduct and the charges against them declared “unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid”.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and the broadcaster reached an agreement on Wednesday which saw the High Court in Pretoria interdicting the broadcaster from enacting its policy.

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its resolution, announced in May, to ban the airing of footage of violent protests.

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng initially said after the ruling that no one could tell the SABC what to do and that they would challenge Icasa’s decision in court. However, in a surprise turn Icasa said on Wednesday afternoon that the SABC agreed to comply with the ruling. – News24

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