File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison
File photo: ANA/Karen Sandison

SABC ordered to reinstate and backpay chief finance controller

By LOYISO SIDIMBA Time of article published Jul 8, 2020

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Johannesburg - A top SABC official has been reinstated after she was dismissed from the troubled public broadcaster after she refused to pay controversial former chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng's R11million bonus.

The Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, found that chief financial controller Maria Campher’s dismissal was procedurally and substantively unfair after she was told that there was "no room" for her in its structure.

“The SABC is ordered to reinstate Ms Campher to the same or similar position to the one she occupied before her dismissal and on the same or similar terms and conditions of employment with effect from May 1, 2018,” reads Judge Portia Nkutha-Nkontwana’s ruling.

She ordered the SABC to pay Campher full back pay for May 1, 2018 to June 25, when the order was granted, as well the costs of the lawsuit.

Campher was offered a five-year contract in May 2013 as the chief financial controller after a similar period as the broadcaster’s payroll manager: technical and compliance.

The offer of the position of chief financial controller was rescinded after Campher met the SABC’s group employee relations department who advised that the broadcaster intended to terminate her services because there was no room for her in its structure.

According to Judge Nkutha-Nkontwana’s judgment, Campher was subsequently served with a letter dated October 25, 2016 notifying her that the SABC had resolved to terminate the employment relationship and pay her for the balance of her fixed-term contract, which was 18 months.

She was paid out nearly R1.8m but later referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), where she sought reinstatement.

However, Campher was unsuccessful in conciliation and her matter was referred to arbitration.

At the CCMA, Campher argued that she was dismissed because she was a stumbling block to the approval of certain bonus payments to Motsoeneng as well as the exorbitant professional fees to SABC contractors.

Campher repeatedly drew the attention of SABC senior management to her concerns about the public broadcaster’s solvency.

At the Labour Court, Campher insisted that the true reason for the termination of her contract was because she was seen as an obstacle to the payment of certain bonuses to Motsoeneng. However, according to the CCMA commissioner who presided over her matter, this was not supported by evidence.

Campher had raised concerns about the SABC’s liquidity as well as the lawfulness of the verbal instruction she had received to effect the first instalment of Motsoeneng’s R11m bonus.

Campher maintained that had she not queried Motsoeneng’s bonus her contract would not have been prematurely terminated, according to Judge Nkutha-Nkontwana’s ruling.

Nkutha-Nkontwana accepted Campher’s evidence.

Attempts to contact Motsoeneng yesterday were unsuccessful and the SABC did not respond to questions.

The SABC eventually instituted a successful lawsuit at the South Gauteng High Court to block Motsoeneng’s pension payout until its action to recover the R11m had been heard.

Political Bureau

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