SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng File picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Cape Town - The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) launched an urgent application against the SABC, its Board of Directors, the Minister of Communications and Hlaudi Motsoeneng on July 1.

Francis Antonie of the HSF said the foundation seeks urgent relief interdicting the implementation of the SABC's policy and practice not to cover violent and other protests, as well as relief preventing the national broadcaster from adopting or implementing any censorship policy which would be contrary to the mandate of the public broadcaster.

The foundation seeks the above relief to operate on an interim basis, pending the final determination either of the review proceedings launched by the HSF or the final determination of the proceedings against the SABC and Motsoeneng initially heard by Icasa.The opposing respondents (which include the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and Professor Maguvhe) have missed the deadline of July 11 to file answering papers as stipulated in the notice of motion despite numerous undertakings that they would do so.

The urgent interdict proceedings are set to be heard on July 19 in the Gauteng Division of the High Court, Pretoria.

The SABC, as a public broadcaster, is obliged properly to cover events of national and public importance, including political protests and news which accurately reports on the president or any political party, Antonie said.

It is impermissible for the SABC to distort or refuse to cover important news, as a result of political partisanship or otherwise. More worryingly, the HSF said, it appears that the censorship in this case is politically motivated in the run up to the local government elections on August 3.