Solidarity Secretary Dirk Hermann speaks to reporters at the Labour Court in Johannesburg last week. With him is Foeta Krige, Jacques Steenkamp and Suna Venter. Photo: ANA

Johannesburg - Four SABC journalists who were fired for questioning the broadcaster's censorship policy must return to work, the Labour Court ruled on Tuesday.

The court said the SABC's dismissal of the four journalists was unlawful and they must be allowed to return to work immediately.

The court said that journalists Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay were entitled to return to work immediately and continue with their duties and responsibilities.

The SABC has also been interdicted from continuing with any related disciplinary proceedings against the four.

Their managers have also been ordered to tell the court within five days why they should not be held personally liable for the legal costs of the journalists.

The four are part of the so-called #SABC8, who have challenged the broadcaster’s controversial editorial policies, particularly a ban on airing footage of violent protests. The ban has been compared to self-censorship.

The four were suspended earlier this month and fired unexpectedly last week, while disciplinary processes were still underway against them.

They approached the court on Friday to obtain an interdict setting aside their dismissals.

 

This is the second court case the SABC has lost in recent days over its censorship policies. Last week the high court in Pretoria ordered the SABC to revert back to its old policies.

The ruling will be a boost for the three other journalists who were also fired as well as independent contractor Vuyo Mvoko whose case will be heard in the high court in Johannesburg this week.

Trade union Solidarity, who was representing the journalists, has welcomed the ruling.

“This is game, set and match,” said the union’s chief executive Dirk Hermann.