Axed SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng Photo: ANA Pictures
Johannesburg - Disgraced SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng now has to prove to the courts why he should be entitled to his millions in pension payout, as the once powerful chief executive’s woes continue to worsen.

This was after the interim board filed an urgent application to interdict the SABC pension fund from allowing Motsoeneng to cash out on his pension.

In the papers, filed in the high court in Johannesburg on Friday, the SABC argues the decision to award Motsoeneng a whopping R11.5 million bonus was “irrational, irregular and without any factual or legal basis”.

The latest legal action could indicate that the SABC interim board is increasingly frustrated by the apparent delays by President Jacob Zuma to sign a Special Investigating Unit proclamation into the SABC. 

Last month, the SABC was concerned that delays by Zuma to sign a SIU proclamation to probe the rot at the cash-strapped public broadcaster could see Motsoeneng cashing in on his pension millions.

This would mean it would be difficult to recoup the money if Motsoeneng is found to have benefited illegally from transactions at the SABC.

Zuma has been sitting on the SIU proclamation report for over three months, say sources privy to investigations.

Yesterday, an SABC insider said: “If the proclamation had been signed and the SIU was active (in investigating the SABC), they would have been the ones negotiating with the (SABC) Pension Fund (to withhold Motsoeneng’s pension.”

The axed chief operations officer (COO) was paid the R11.5m bonus for negotiating several controversial deals, including the R533m MultiChoice contract, which gave the private broadcaster access to the SABC’s entire archive.

The decision to award the bonus, approved as a “success fee” for Motsoeneng at a meeting of the SABC’s board of governance and nominations (G&N) committee, was based on "2.4% of R1.19bn” that Motsoeneng claimed he had raised for the SABC.

Former group chief executive officer, James Aguma, is cited in the legal papers as the mastermind behind the cash bonanza to the former COO.

The SABC now seeks to “interdict and restrain” the SABC pensionfund “from dissipating, and/or paying out” Motsoeneng his pension benefits. The legal action was taken after an audit investigation into the SABC’s affairs revealed that Motsoeneng received “an unlawful/unauthorised payment of R11 508 549”, among other irregularities, according to court papers. The decision to pay Motsoeneng the award was taken on August 19, after Aguma made an oral representation to the G&N committee requesting approval to pay the “a success fee”.

The audit further revealed “a clear misconduct in the procedure and approval” of the award. This was because only the SABC’s human resources department, together with the executive committee - and not the G&N committee - was the appropriate structure to determine and recommend a performance bonus.

Aguma inflated the amount that Motsoeneng had raised, apparently to justify the bonus payout. Aguma, who faced 10 disciplinary charges, resigned last month, while his disciplinary hearing continues.

The SABC has filed a motion for the application to be heard on August 29.

Motsoeneng was axed following a disciplinary hearing, but is appealing the sanction.

Last week, he failed to reach an agreement with the SABC at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. The case is now headed for arbitration.

Sunday Tribune