South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days while a disciplinary hearing into his breaches is conducted‚ the Supreme Court of Appeal court has ruled.
Motsoeneng‚ the SABC and the Communications Minister were challenging an earlier high court order that found Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s finding that action be taken against him for receiving exorbitant salary increases and forging his matric qualification.
Motsoeneng has since been awarded a further R1-million salary increase by the SABC board and has remained at work free from any disciplinary action.
The SABC will now have to investigate him and bring a disciplinary case against him or face being in contempt of court.
The SCA in the summary of its judgement said that “remedial action by [the] Public Protector…legal effect…and cannot be ignored by [the] state and public institutions”.
The SCA appeared to criticise the Communications Minister and former SABC board chairperson‚ Ellen Tshabalala‚ who endorsed Motsoeneng’s permanent appointment despite the Public Protector’s findings.
“Both appear to have already exonerated Motsoeneng of any wrongdoing. For it seems to be inconsistent to promote a person to one of the most senior positions at the public broadcaster if there had been any genuine intention of instituting disciplinary proceedings against him‚” the court said.
“Rationally‚ implicit in his promotion has to be a rejection of the rather damning findings by the Public Protector. Not only does all of that render their assertion that they were still intent on engaging with the Public Protector contrived and disingenuous‚ but it strongly dispels the notion that they can still bring an open and impartial mind to bear on the matter.”
“The appeal against the suspension order must therefore also fail.”
The appeal was “dismissed with costs including the costs attendant upon the employment of two counsel”.
Tshabalala resigned from the board when after it was reported that she could not provide proof of her qualifications‚ as requested by a parliamentary committee.
She claimed she was the victim of a political conspiracy with the ruling alliance.