SABC journalists to learn their fate next week

The four journalists dismissed by the SABC at the beginning of this week will find out on either Monday (July 25) or Tuesday whether their dismissals will be set aside and they are allowed to return to work.

Labour Court Judge Robert la Grange reserved judgment in the application brought by trade union Solidarity and Foeta Krige‚ Suna Venter‚ Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp.

La Grange said lawyers needed to confirm with the registrar on Monday morning.

The four journalists and the union had asked the court to set aside the four’s dismissal notices issued to them by the SABC and that they be reinstated.

Counsel for the four and the union‚ Steven Budlender‚ said the SABC’s conduct towards the four journalists was cynical and amounted to bullying.

The four were among a number of journalists who had expressed opposition to the decision taken by the public broadcaster in May not to show visuals of public protests where there was destruction of public property.

The four were dismissed for‚ among other reasons‚ taking part in a protest march against their employer on July 1.

However‚ the SABC conceded on Wednesday that it will comply with the order by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) that the protest policy was invalid.

“This is not only about the dismissals‚ the suspensions and the disciplinaries. It is what came before‚” Budlender said.

It started on June 1‚ when SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the then acting head of news‚ Jimi Matthews‚ summoned Krige‚ Venter and Pillay to a meeting where they were read the riot act.

Budlender said the journalists had called in outside commentators on SABC radio to express their views about the protest policy.

Budlender said Motsoeneng told the journalists that they had to adhere to the policy and that failure to do so meant they would be cast out of the organisation.

“From thereon‚ the SABC has been intimidating its journalists. Mr Motsoeneng harassed them and intimidated them. People who were right all along about the policy remain dismissed‚” Budlender said.

Solidarity also seeks an order stopping the SABC from going ahead with the disciplinary proceedings against the journalists.

Their dismissal happened on Monday‚ just two days before the SABC capitulated in its urgent‚ interim battle in the high court with the Helen Suzman Foundation over the protest policy‚ agreeing to the interdict to stop implementation of the policy.

Journalists Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Thandeka Gqubule and Lukhanyo were dismissed on Tuesday.

Themba Skosana SC‚ for the SABC‚ said there was a contract of employment that prohibited certain conduct and that the employees had breached those conditions.

He said the employer was also entitled to terminate the employment contract after the employees had failed to answer to allegations of misconduct by July 15.

– TMG Digital

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