File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has dismissed the "misrepresentations" published by the Sunday Times newspaper under the headline "SABC to get spooks to spy on its staff”, and at the same time expressed concern at the leaking of confidential documents.

"It is totally false that the SABC board took a decision 'to spy on its staff members'," SABC acting spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said in a statement on Sunday.

"No such decision has been taken. The SABC is further concerned that the newspaper used confidential board minutes to sensationalise and deliberately distort information, thereby causing panic and a trust deficit between the SABC board and employees," she said.

The SABC, as a public service broadcaster, fully championed the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy for all its employees. There were no efforts by SABC leadership to compromise these two important rights meant for all South African citizens. In fact, the board had in the past taken a decision that no journalist should be subject to State Security Agency (SSA) processes of any kind in order to protect the constitutional rights of the media.

The SABC had witnessed several disclosures of confidential company information in the past year and the board was duty-bound to ensure that confidential information relating to the organisation was protected. 

"In this regard, we are no different from any other company in South Africa which would seek to protect the confidentiality of its lawful discussions and activities. In protecting the public broadcaster, the SABC will always act within ambit of the law," Seapolelo said.

Further, It was completely unfair and misleading for the Sunday Times to attribute a board discussion to only one board member and have no regard to the final resolutions taken by the full board.

The SABC engaged with the SSA on a number of key issues relating to the public broadcaster, and one of them was to deal with the disclosure of confidential company information to third parties and the media.

"The mere fact that the Sunday Times newspaper is in possession of confidential board minutes and quotes its contents is indicative that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with. Whether the SABC engages with the SSA or private security experts, it remains entitled to investigate breaches of confidentiality and to protection its information. The SABC reiterates that the Sunday Times has misled the public and the SABC reserves its rights in this regard," Seapolelo said.

African News Agency (ANA)