The SABC headquarters, with a Sentech tower in the background, at Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Photo: Cara Viereckl

The Johannesburg Labour Court reserved judgment this week in a drawn out dispute between the SABC and its sacked editor of news international, Montlenyane Diphoko, who was fired three years ago.

The public broadcaster is seeking a review of a decision by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) which found that Diphoko’s dismissal was “substantially and procedurally unfair”.

Diphoko has been at loggerheads with the public broadcaster since his dismissal over negligence and dishonesty related to fruitless and wasteful expenditure resulting in financial loss to the SABC.

All charges against him related to the payment of independent contractors.

He was charged with authorising payments of independent contractors some of whom were allegedly paid double without validating their claims, among others.

After a disciplinary hearing the SABC gave Diphoko an option of accepting a demotion to a position of producer as an alternative to dismissal.

But Diphoko claimed he was not afforded an appeal hearing against his sanction and instead he was fired.

In his replying affidavit to the SABC’s application for a review of the CCMA award, Diphoko argued that he was “never trained on finances” and that he relied on the SABC’s financial analyst in the news department.

In his initial letter of suspension in 2009 Diphoko was accused of mismanagement and overspending his budget by R20 million.

Diphoko’s lawyers have asked the court to dismiss the SABC’s application for a review of the CCMA decision and order the public broadcaster to pay his legal costs.

Saturday Star