SABC to appeal Labour Court ruling, will not allow #SABC4 back into their offices

Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been no stranger to headlines and controversy in recent times. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been no stranger to headlines and controversy in recent times. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The SABC is appealing the Labour Court’s order that the state broadcaster reinstate four journalists it fired and said they may not report to duty.

The four journalists, Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp, are part of the “#SABC8” who were disciplined for criticising Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s controversial ban on broadcasting destructive protests.

Last week, the four took their case to the Labour Court which ruled on Tuesday that they be reinstated. In addition, the judgment declared that the journalists should not be liable for any legal costs they incurred while appealing their dismissal. Judge Andre van Niekerk, delivering the judgment on behalf of Judge Robert Lagrange, also lambasted the SABC’s “reckless regard for the pending applications”.

“The reason for this unusual prayer is that even if it cannot be shown that the SABC proceeded with the dismissals in a wilful attempt to avert possible consequence of the Constitutional Court application and this one, whoever took the decision to dismiss the applicants did so with reckless regard for the pending applications and arguably if a more considered, reflective and financially accountable approach was taken, the SABC would not have proceeded with the dismissals or persisted in opposing the application after agreeing to the order with the Helen Suzman Foundation,” Van Niekerk said.

However, Solidarity, which represents the dismissed journalists, revealed on Wednesday morning that the SABC intends to appeal the ruling. The union’s Dirk Hermann tweeted a copy of a lawyer’s letter declaring the intention of the broadcaster. The letter also makes clear that the four “may not report for duty pending the outcome of the appeal”.

Luke Feltham

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