Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng has lost yet another attempt to appeal the cost order that he should be held personally liable for the legal costs related to his 2016 broadcast ban of public violence at the public broadcaster, and the drama that ensued with the firing of eight journalists who defied the ban.
This time, the Constitutional Court on Monday dismissed his appeal attempt after the Supreme Court of Appeal had earlier dismissed it.
Motsoeneng took a decision to ban violent protests ahead of the 2016 local government elections. The so-called SABC 8 journalists who went against this were unlawfully dismissed.
Once the labour court found against the SABC, Motsoeneng attempted to convince the courts that he was not the one who made the decision to dismiss the journalists, but no one believed him.
The Supreme Court of Appeal in 2016 also dismissed his application for leave to appeal a high court ruling that his permanent appointment needed to be set aside.
In 2015, the Western Cape High Court found Motsoeneng’s appointment was irrational and unlawful and set it aside. He refused to vacate his office at the time, saying he would appeal to the SCA.
Motsoeneng’s has faced accusations that he is largely to blame for the SABC’s current financial woes.
A high wage bill – nearly half the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) income, poor management and a skewed staff-manager ratio – are among key factors behind the corporation’s planned restructuring, expected to lead to the retrenchment of hundreds of employees.
The corporation had to fork out R22 million to defend Motsoeneng in court during his reign.
In a parliamentary reply to Democratic Alliance MP Thomas Hadebe in March, then communications minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane revealed that Motsoeneng was a respondent in no fewer than 15 different cases in the 2013/14 financial year.
His legal battle against the DA over the public protector’s report into governance failures at the public broadcaster – “When Governance and Ethics Fail”– led to the SABC footing Motsoeneng’s legal bill of R5.3 million.
Other spending included R4.9 million in litigation on “various SABC board matters”, R1.6 million against the Helen Suzman Foundation and R1.1 million in a case against journalist Vuyo Mvoko.
Former SABC board member Krish Naidoo earlier this year testified before the CCMA that Motsoeneng’s unilateral implementation of the 90% on-air local music content led to the loss of R300 million in advertising revenue.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)