Hawks investigating SABC ‘protest policy’, says Icasa

The Hawks are investigating complaints that the SABC has not abided by its ruling to lift the ban on airing protest footage, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said on Tuesday.

A criminal charge it laid at the Bramley police station on November 28 had been escalated to the Hawks, Icasa councillor Nomvuyiso Batyi told Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday.

They had not yet received a case number from the Hawks.

Icasa has been battling since July last year to get the SABC to provide proof that it would abide by its ruling to withdraw the ban.

Batyi said the SABC’s defence was that it never actually implemented the May 26 protest policy, but only announced it.

ANC MP Mondli Gungubele said it would not help the broadcaster if the Hawks only finished its investigation in 2019. He asked Icasa whether it was free and able to execute its mandate.

Democratic Alliance MP Phumzile van Damme congratulated Icasa for taking action, but agreed with Gungubele that Icasa could “show more teeth”.

Batyi said the Icasa Act allows the authority to lay criminal charges to enforce its orders.

“We cannot take the law into our own hands. We have to go to the Hawks [police],” she said.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

The maximum fine a person or entity that violates an Icasa order can receive is R1-million, or one year in jail.

Icasa had so far investigated the SABC as an organisation. No monetary fine had been considered, as the protest policy had resulted in no financial loss or gain.

Congress of the People MP William Madisha said it would help Parliament and Icasa to investigate “criminal” individuals.

On May 26 last year, the SABC banned the airing of footage of violent protests on its television stations. Icasa held public hearings about the decision. On July 11, it instructed the SABC to reverse its decision.

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said at a press briefing later: “No one is going to tell us what to do” and “I don’t know what is SABC censoring”.

Batyi said the SABC never provided any proof of its withdrawal of the policy, despite agreeing to abide by Icasa’s order on July 20.

She said they followed up with the attorneys of the eight SABC journalists who had been fired, and then rehired, for speaking out against the policy.

The attorneys said none of the journalists had received formal notification that the “protest policy” had been lifted and that a climate of fear still prevailed at the broadcaster.

In a separate matter, Van Damme asked whether Icasa had any plans to investigate ongoing reports of “fake news”.

Batyi said acting Icasa chairperson Rubben Mohlaloga would be better placed to answer that question, but that they primarily dealt with fairness and transparency in the news.

It did not regulate the actual content, she said, nor did it look at print media.

Batyi said Icasa had not received any complaints yet regarding e.tv’s application to cancel its prime-time news slot. She said Icasa was considering the application. – News24

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Paul Herman
Paul Herman works from London. London based Songwriter/Producer. Paul has written songs for Artists like Dido, Emeli Sande, Corinne Bailey Rae, Eminem, Izzy Bizu, Raleigh Ritchie... Paul Herman has over 260 followers on Twitter.
Advertisting

Tension over who’s boss of courts

In a letter, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questions whether Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has acted constitutionally

SABC sued over ‘bad’ clip of Ramaphosa

A senior employee at the public broadcaster wants compensation for claims of ‘sabotage’

Soundtrack to a pandemic: Africa’s best coronavirus songs

Drawing on lessons from Ebola, African artists are using music to convey public health messaging. And they are doing it in style

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders