Hlaudi Motsoeneng will know in less than a month if he will be held personally liable for the legal costs incurred by eight journalists who were dismissed from the SABC.
Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Lukhanyo Calata‚ Vuyo Mvoko‚ Foeta Krige‚ Krivani Pillay‚ Thandeka Gqubule‚ Jacques Steenkamp and the late Suna Venter were fired by the public broadcaster in July 2016 for speaking out against Motsoeneng’s policy of no longer airing footage of violent protests.
At the time‚ Motsoeneng was still COO of the SABC. Seven of the eight journalists were subsequently rehired after challenging their dismissal.
The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday postponed its case‚ seeking to determine who should be held liable for the journalists legal costs‚ to September 6.
Judge David Gush said a decision would be made then on who was liable for the costs‚ “whether Mr Motsoeneng is here or not.” The costs‚ he added‚ amounted to about R500 000.
Motsoeneng‚ who is the second respondent‚ was not present in court on Tuesday to explain why he should not be held liable.
SABC legal representative Sandile July asked Judge Gush for a postponement to allow more time for preparation.
The SABC’s former acting group executive for News and Current Affairs‚ Simon Tebele‚ was present as a third respondent. However‚ he said that he had not been given enough time to inform his legal representative that the matter would continue. Tebele said he was also in severe pain and recuperating from an operation.
Motsoeneng was removed as chief operating officer (COO) after the Supreme Court of Appeal in September last year rejected his bid to appeal a Western Cape High Court ruling that declared his appointment irrational and set it aside.
He was removed as an SABC employee after being found guilty at a disciplinary hearing after hosting a media briefing in which he criticised a parliamentary committee that probed alleged irregularities at the SABC and the fitness of the board.