Has Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s luck run out?
Johannesburg - SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been suspended with immediate effect - after earlier dodging the bullet by applying for leave to appeal against a judgment ordering that he should face disciplinary proceedings and be suspended pending the outcome.
Court orders are usually parked while the appeal process plays out, but Western Cape High Court Judge Ashton Schippers on Thursday morning granted a DA application for his ruling of October last year to be implemented, finding there were “exceptional circumstances” that warranted this.
The case arises from a report by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela after she investigated complaints by SABC staff of systemic maladministration, improper conduct and abuse of power at the public broadcaster.
Among other reasons for finding Motsoeneng should face disciplinary action, Madonsela found he had lied about possessing a matric certificate when he first applied for a job at the SABC, purged staff resulting in substantial costs and irregularly awarded increases and persuaded the board to irregularly sanction huge increases for himself.
Instead of disciplining him, however, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi appointed him permanently in the position, which he had filled in an acting capacity, without the SABC having followed proper procedure.
The DA then applied to have Madonsela’s findings enforced and Judge Schippers ruled last year, despite finding the public protector’s remedial actions were not binding, that Motsoeneng should be suspended for 60 days and disciplinary action instituted against him.
On Thursday morning Judge Schippers granted Motsoeneng, the SABC and Muthambi leave to appeal against that judgment, but said the COO must be suspended pending the outcome of the disciplinary proceedings.
He said the DA had made its case that the SABC and the public would suffer irreparable harm unless his order of October last year was implemented, among others because, as Maodnsela put it in her report, there were “pathological corporate governance deficiencies at the SABC”.
DA chairman of the federal executive James Selfe said if Motsoeneng arrived at work on Friday he would be in contempt of court.