Hlaudi Motsoeneng. File picture: Independent Media
Johannesburg – Defiant former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng may dodge the new charges put to him by the corporation’s interim board on a technicality.

Motsoeneng has once again thrown the gauntlet to the broadcaster’s new board, saying the process they followed to try to summarily dismiss him was illegal.

His position is backed by labour analyst Michael Bagraim, who argues that it was illegal for the SABC to write to Motsoeneng, calling for him to motivate why he should not be summarily dismissed.

This was after Motsoeneng called a media briefing where he verbally attacked the interim board and Parliament’s ad hoc committee that looked into the public broadcaster’s affairs.

“They can’t dismiss him without a hearing. That’s old- style government; we live in a new era where people have labour rights. It’s illegal for them to have written that letter in the first place. That’s not the way it’s done.

“It doesn’t matter how bad you think someone has behaved, you still subject him to a disciplinary hearing. If they think he did wrong while on suspension, they must invite him to a hearing, call witnesses and give him enough time to prepare for a hearing,” Bagraim pointed out.

On Friday, the SABC interim board slapped Motsoeneng – who was in hospital at the time – with a letter asking him to explain why he should not be summarily fired for his comments during a media conference last week.

He was given until 4pm on Monday to reply.

On Monday, Motsoeneng’s lawyer Zola Majavu confirmed that his client had met the deadline, but refused to comment on the contents of both the letters to his client and his reply to the SABC.

“I confirm that we received a letter. The letter said he must respond by 4pm, and we did. Out of respect for the SABC, I don’t want to talk about it until they acknowledge receipt,” he said.

But The Star has independently established that Motsoeneng argues that he could not be summarily kicked out for what he said at the media briefing without proper procedures, during which he would be able to defend himself.

Motsoeneng’s defence, a source said, would be similar to that of the eight SABC journalists who were reinstated by the Labour Court last year, after the broadcaster fired them without following procedures for voicing their concerns about the banning of protest visuals.

The Star’s sister paper, The Sunday Independent, reported on Sunday that Motsoeneng had been served with fresh disciplinary charges.

“He has been served with charges and will face a disciplinary hearing for negative publicity. He can be summarily dismissed,” a source familiar with the case said.

In a no-holds-barred media briefing in Joburg last week, Motsoeneng tore into the interim board, chaired by businesswo- man Khanyi- sile Kweyama, saying it was conflicted and lacked integrity.

Motsoeneng called for the SABC board to be appointed by ordinary citizens and not Parliament, and that it should be chaired by a retired judge.

“They are conflicted, but I have never recommended for them to be disbanded. They should be vetted. I don’t care who serves on the board, but they should do the basics such as vetting,” a bullish Motsoeneng said at his media briefing, where his supporters sang his praises for his controversial 90% and 80% local content for radio and TV, respectively.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said they did not want to discuss the matter in public.

“As we have said before, we don’t want to communicate with our employees through the media. That’s how we want to get involved If anyone has got issues, it will be the person we have written to.”

Kweyama couldn’t be reached for comment.

The former SABC strongman appears to be on his own after Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo dismissed his criticism of the board, saying it had been legally appointed by President Jacob Zuma.

The Star