Axed SABC chief operations officer Chris Maroleng. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency(ANA) Archives
Axed SABC chief operations officer Chris Maroleng. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency(ANA) Archives

Fired SABC boss Chris Maroleng demands R16m or reinstatement

By LOYISO SIDIMBA Time of article published Mar 13, 2020

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Johannesburg - Axed SABC chief operations officer Chris Maroleng is demanding that the ailing public broadcaster reinstate him or pay R16 million for unlawfully terminating his contract a year ago.

Maroleng has also accused SABC chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, its chief executive Madoda Mxakwe and the broadcaster’s lawyer Sandile July of illegally and dishonourably dismissing him after building a case against him.

In a supplementary affidavit filed at the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, last week, Maroleng states that Mxakwe, Makhathini and July have been hell bent on firing employees they did not like in an illegal and illicit manner.

”I am one such victim whose scalp has been claimed in a clandestine and unlawful manner,” reads Maroleng’s supplementary affidavit.

The R16m Maroleng is demanding is for the unexpired portion of his five-year contract, which he wants as damages, or to be reinstated retrospectively from April last year without the loss of remuneration or benefits.

This week, the SABC indicated that it would oppose Maroleng’s application.

Maroleng was fired after the SABC found him guilty of serious misconduct and ignoring the broadcaster’s policies and procedures.

He accused July, a director of Werkmans Attorneys who chaired his disciplinary hearing, of assisting the plot against him and ensuring that deliberations sailed close to the wind.

Mxakwe and Makhathini, according to Maroleng, conspired to have him fired.

”There was no misconduct and the group chief executive officer (Mxakwe) and the chairperson (Makhathini) built a case against me to ensure [that] I am purged and I lose my job,” Maroleng said.

He insisted that his dismissal was illegal, and he was denied the right to appeal and “by a show of hands, the right to a fair trial”.

However, the SABC disputes Maroleng’s version of events, stating that it followed due process from the outset and that its former operations chief was at all times treated fairly and afforded all the rights available to him in terms of the broadcaster’s policies and the law.

The SABC maintains that Maroleng’s contract was terminated by its board with immediate effect in April last year after due consideration of the detailed findings and clear recommendations of an independent disciplinary process chaired by July.

Maroleng, who became SABC chief operations officer in January 2018, has also briefed his lawyers to proceed with further action to sue the SABC for defamation and reputational damage following a statement it released this week.

He told the Labour Court that there was the existence of a hit list of officials hired during his controversial predecessor Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s tenure.

He described the hit list as “shocking and unconstitutional”.

Last month, the SABC lost its bid to overturn appointments, transfers and promotions of several current and former executives authorised by Motsoeneng after it approached the Labour Court.

Maroleng said the SABC was run as Mxakwe’s personal fiefdom with his “trusted chairperson” Makhathini.

He described the board that fired him as “still wet behind the ears” and wants individual members to foot the bill for his legal costs.

“My rights to a fair trial were severely curtailed and undermined by the behaviour of the board members both collectively and individually,” said Maroleng in his court papers.

Last week, Independent Media reported that the SABC is expected to post a loss of nearly R605m in the current financial year but the deficit will decrease to R302.3m in 2020/21.

July could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Political Bureau

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