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My enemies are after me, Hlaudi Motsoeneng says as SIU presses for him to pay back money

Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi said the bid to recoup the R2.4 million “gratitude” he paid to music legends during his tenure was a political ploy. File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi said the bid to recoup the R2.4 million “gratitude” he paid to music legends during his tenure was a political ploy. File picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 16, 2022

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Pretoria - Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng insists that the ongoing bid by the public broadcaster and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for him to pay back over R2.4 million in “gratitude” money handed to music legends during his tenure is a political ploy.

“Look, I have been saying this is more political, because I am aware that all these politicians, especially those who are against me, if they don’t tarnish my name, I am going to emerge as one of the leaders of South Africa. People are very afraid of me,” Motsoeneng told news channel eNCA.

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“What is more important for me … I don’t regret [and] I don’t apologise. The role of a leader is to stop the suffering of our people, to stop poverty and not talking but by implementing. I did implement and stopped those artists who were dying in hospital who could not even pay for their medicine. I paid for their medicine.”

The outspoken Motsoeneng now leads the African Content Movement (ACM) which he launched in 2018.

The public broadcaster’s controversial former chief operations officer approved the payment of R50 000 each to 50 music legends, totalling R2.5 million.

On Wednesday, Motsoeneng insisted that he raised the money privately, outside the public broadcaster.

“I raised the money from a private company. The board knows about that matter. The three directors of the SABC, they know, because when I raised money the person who is accountable for the financials of the SABC is the CFO [chief financial officer]. The CFO confirmed that she did invoice MultiChoice and they received money,” said Motsoeneng.

He added that the SIU had only spoken to people “who know nothing” about the funding made to the artists.

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The Special Tribunal on Monday reserved judgment in the SABC’s bid to overturn its former executives’ decision to pay the money to the music legends.

William “Mr Everything” Mthethwa represented non-profit company SA Music Legends which is fighting the SIU’s attempt to reverse the decision.

The SABC wants the ten current and former SABC executives to repay the money.

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Erstwhile acting chief financial officer Audrey Raphela’s lawyer Gideon Mamabolo argued that Motsoeneng knowingly misled his colleagues to process the payments.

The executives claim that SABC’s lawsuit has prescribed, as the Companies Act states, that it should be lodged within three years.

In papers before the tribunal, the SABC said the gratuitous payments were made out of funds Motsoeneng raised from a lucrative deal with MultiChoice.

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At the time, the SABC claimed the decision was consistent with the Broadcasting Act and its policies, and that the payments were within the executives’ delegated authority.

The Special Tribunal has previously heard that Mthethwa had no personal knowledge of the claims made despite his deposition on it before. It also ruled that he had personal knowledge of the facts deposed in his affidavit and did not advance any reason whether there was any basis to nonetheless be admitted in the matter.

The music legends argued that they would be morally and physically bound to refund the SABC and that this would be unfair, unjust and against the common good that the money that was paid to them be the burden of the current and former SABC executives.

Judge Lebogang Modiba reserved judgment in the matter.

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