Hlaudi Motsoeneng File picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - Former South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, failed to appear in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday to tell the court why he should not be personally liable for the wrongful dismissal of eight journalists at the public broadcaster. 

On May 11, the Labour Court granted the application by trade union Solidarity, to add Motsoeneng, along with acting head of news Simon Tebele, as respondents in the trade union's cost order case against the SABC. There was no legal representative in court for Motsoeneng to explain his absence. 

Tebele appeared alone and complained that he was not well, prompting Judge David Gush to postpone the case to September 6. 

The SABC has reportedly withdrawn its attorneys from representing the duo. 

Solidarity's Anton van der Bijl accused Motsoeneng of delaying the case. "We do not agree with the actions of the SABC respondents who continue to change their legal representation at the last minute, it's a delaying tactic," Van der Bijl said. 

"We still argue that Motsoeneng made the decision to dismiss the journalists and that is why we are still holding him personally accountable for the costs incurred."

Gush ruled that both Motsoeneng and Tebele be present when the court proceedings resume on 6 September. The case would be heard in their absence should they fail to be in court.