Cape Town - The Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled that SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng must face disciplinary charges and must be suspended from this post pending the outcome of that process.
Crucially, the court also clarified the powers of the Public Proctector. It held that remedial action by the chapter nine institution may not be ignored, adding in summary: “…this watchdog should not be muzzled”.
The court criticised the earlier ruling by Judge Ashton Schippers in the Western Cape High Court that the Public Protector’s findings were not binding in the absolute but could not be ignored without cogent argument, as potentially confusing.
That ruling had deep political ramifications as the ANC used it as an argument for rejecting Thuli Madonsela’s directives, notably on the Nkandla controversy.
The SCA went on to add a person or a body that disagreed with a ruling of the Public Protector may not embark on a parallel investigation and decide that the outcome of that trumps the findings made by the protector.
Regarding Motsoeneng, the court said that given his position at the public broadcaster, the disciplinary process risked being compromised if he remained in his position while it unfolded.