/ 14 August 2018

Hlaudi continues to haunt the SABC as DA comes for R1.7m in legal fees

Sunny outlook: Hlaudi Motsoeneng says he has a great deal of support for his plan to put a positive spin on the news.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng was a respondent in no less than 15 different cases from the 2013-14 financial year with the highest legal bill he accrued amounting to R5.3-million. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The SABC says it can’t deliver the full R1.7-million it was ordered to pay the Democratic Alliance following litigation that the party pursued against former chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

In a statement, the party says it was informed by the SABC’s lawyers that the broadcaster is “not in the position to pay the full amount at this time”. This allegedly “comes on the heels of other letters” that the broadcaster had to send to service providers and producers, saying that it would not be able to pay them for the month of July.

Motsoeneng was a respondent in no less than 15 different cases from the 2013-14 financial year with the highest legal bill he accrued amounting to R5.3-million. This amount came from his fight against the DA over the public protector’s report into governance failures at the broadcaster.

The DA was awarded a cost order of R1.7-million in legal fees which the SABC is now struggling to pay.

The party will consider a payment plan for the SABC and has opened the floor for the broadcaster to come up with a proposal on how this fee can be settled. 

In March this year, the broadcaster had so far forked out R22-billion to defend Motsoeneng during his tenure and this amount was expected to increase.

READ MORE: Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s legal fees cost the SABC R22m

The DA says that the SABC not being able to pay its bills and legal fees shows that it’s “on the verge of insolvency”.

“It is no secret that the SABC’s financial distress stems from the years of political interference, financial mismanagement, maladministration and corruption,” the party said. “It was particularly during Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s tenure at the public broadcaster that SABC was almost sent over the edge.”

The DA says it maintained from the very beginning that Motsoeneng was not fit to hold office which is why it fought for his “toxic influence” to be removed.

The party believes that the SABC also knew that Motsoeneng was not suitable for the job but “continued to engage in endless litigation to protect” him.

Motsoeneng was eventually removed from his position in June 2017 after he was found guilty of bringing the SABC into disrepute in an internal disciplinary hearing.

The DA says the SABC should hold Motsoeneng personally liable for the “frivolous legal battles” that he dragged the broadcaster through which he “purposefully prolonged at the expense of the taxpayer”.