News | South Africa
A couple who worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) for nearly 60 years together in total have a bleak future after they were retrenched by the broadcaster.
Radio deputy sports editor Janet Whitton has written an open letter to the SABC group CEO Madoda Mxakwe, group executive for human resources Mojaki Mosia and news group executive Phathiswa Magopeni requesting they at least show some care.
She said the bosses showed no empathy or sorrow for their action against staff and that management was “heartless and cruel”.
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The cash-strapped broadcaster implemented Section 189 retrenchments to cut costs and the departments of communications and labour must raise at least R1.4 billion to keep it going.
The corporation had incurred a net loss R511 million for the 2019- 2020 financial year and embarked on a process to retrench up to 400 employees across the board.
It incurred R292 million in irregular expenditure, R27 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure and the bulk of its spending went on executives and directors, who were rewarded with up to R41.7 million in total.
Between them, the Whittons had 57 years of experience at the SABC.
Tony Whitton was a specialist technical producer and the longest-serving staff member at 5FM.
The Whittons received letters of redundancy via e-mail, with a single line. “Attached please find self-explanatory letter for your attention.”
The letters, sent out in the past six weeks by SABC, were identical for all employees.
Janet Whitton complained that the broadcaster treated her husband and other staff as mere numbers instead of real human beings.
“That’s how you see me and that is how I am being treated. I’d like you to see what the current process is doing in real life, to real living and breathing people who are not, and never have been, mere numbers,” Whitton wrote.
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Her husband joined the SABC in 1987.
“He’s never feared a challenge and has been the reason some ground-breaking broadcasts have happened.
“He made it possible to broadcast from a yacht across the Atlantic, from Antarctica, from inside a submarine, from a lion kill in the middle of a Botswana game reserve. I could go on. But I guess it doesn’t matter to you,” she told the management.
“On top of all this, we’re a family of five that has struggled to make ends meet for many reasons, and due to many challenges. Those ends can’t be met now, despite careful planning on our part. But I guess you don’t care.”
Attempts to get comment from SABC failed as phones were not answered.
But it is known the SABC is going ahead despite criticism of the retrenchments.
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