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By Candice Soobramoney
Lotus FM Youth Crossfire presenter Candice Judith (CJ) Benjamin this week denied she had received a "letter of termination" from the SABC.
In a brief SMS to POST on Monday, Benjamin said: "All I received was a telephone call from Khabo in HR (referring to SABC Human Resource Manager, Khabo Nhleko). She said my contract was being terminated and did not provide reasons. I am pursuing the matter legally."
Benjamin's attorney, Jay Reddy, said he had not heard from the SABC with regard to his client's contract being terminated and is awaiting a formal letter from the national broadcaster in this regard.
However, SABC spokesman, Kaizer Kganyago, confirmed Benjamin's contract was terminated last Tuesday and said she (Benjamin) had been officially informed in this regard. Kganyago refused to stipulate the reason or reasons for her dismissal.
"It is SABC policy not to discuss matters relating to employer and employee in the media," said Kganyago.
However, when Benjamin was taken off air in April, Kganyago attributed her suspension "to a breach of company policy".
Meanwhile, avid Lotus FM listener Roy Sukdhev, who had a previous run-in with Benjamin over a "misconstrued" medical related story about his wife and a local hospital which was aired on her show 18 months ago, said he believed Benjamin's contract being terminated was justified.
Meanwhile, the CCMA (The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) is yet to provide Hannes Du Buisson, president of The Broadcasting, Electronic Media and Allied Workers' Union (BEMAWU), with a date for suspended Lotus FM programme manager, Santosh Beharie's arbitration hearing. Beharie was suspended almost two months ago over allegations of undeclared business interests, disruption of relations, leaking of confidential information and dereliction of duty.
Du Buisson said Beharie, suspended with pay, was "relaxed as he has done nothing wrong, but he is concerned about his image being tarnished".
Beharie's conciliation hearing at the CCMA office in Durban on September 22 failed to reach accord.
A meeting with Du Buisson and the SABC, concerning the return of presenters Ray Maharaj and Vikash Mathura to the station, will take place today (Wednesday) at the SABC offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
The Weekend Liftoff and The Weekend Touchdown presenters were taken off air six months ago due to discrepancies in their annual employment contracts.
Bulletin editor at Lotus FM news, Gary Govindsamy, was appointed acting executive producer of the current affairs programme, Newsbreak, on October 1, replacing Subry Govender, who had taken early retirement last month.
Govindsamy, of Southgate, Phoenix, who is still undertaking his job as bulletin editor, joined SABC news 21 years ago. He said his aim as acting executive producer was to "create a more dynamic current affairs programme which will provide more breaking news and analysis of local, national and international content".
Govindsamy, a popular golfer, started his career as a reporter at a Phoenix-based newspaper, before working as a freelance reporter at Post in the 1980s. He later wrote for The Graphic and The Leader.