Distraught SABC newsreader Desiree Chauke was overcome by emotions and could not read her bulletin about the public broadcaster’s retrenchments. Picture: Screenshot
Distraught SABC newsreader Desiree Chauke was overcome by emotions and could not read her bulletin about the public broadcaster’s retrenchments. Picture: Screenshot

SABC retrenchments bulletin leaves newsreader overcome with emotion

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 31, 2021

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Johannesburg - A distraught SABC newsreader broke down while reading a bulletin about the public broadcaster’s concluded retrenchments.

More than 600 employees at the public broadcaster have been retrenched after the SABC board announced last year that it would undergo a retrenchment process in a bid to trim its R2.4 billion annual salary bill of 3167 employees.

The SABC board said last year that it was aiming at saving over R700 million per year in salaries over the next three financial years.

Meanwhile, the newsreader Desiree Chauke was overwhelmed by emotions and was not the only one.

On Twitter, #SABCRetrenchments started trending on Wednesday as it would be the over 600 workers’ last day as employees of the public broadcaster

“It is the last day of service for more than 600 SABC employees. In a notice to staff the public broadcaster said it had concluded its Section 189 retrenchment process and will transition into a new structure from April 1,” the newsreader read, while stuttering and breaking down.

“I apologise I am not able to finish the link, can I ask the producers to take a break,” she then quickly said, overwhelmed by emotions.

The SABC said the new “fit-for-purpose structure” would come into effect from April. It said the 621 employees were leaving the company on Wednesday, among them, 346 employees who had opted for voluntary severance packages, while 275 people were in positions that were now redundant.

SABC chief executive officer Madoda Mxakwe said the retrenchments were difficult for all involved.

“The retrenchment process has been extremely difficult for all stakeholders and became emotionally charged at times. The extended process unfortunately also created prolonged uncertainty and a sense of despondency for many.

“This was understandable and regrettable. However, despite these challenges, the Section 189 process was a necessary component of the SABC’s turnaround plan to ensure the public broadcaster’s long term financial sustainability and capacity to fulfil its extensive public mandate.

“The process was necessary to preserve and reposition the SABC as a resilient and viable public broadcaster and public media organisation,” he said.

On Wednesday, some of those leaving the SABC took to Twitter to share their stories.

Like William Chabalala, a bulletin writer and producer, who said the SABC was an organisation with “wonderful people”.

“Today I say goodbye to the public broadcaster. I loved my job. I met really wonderful people. Thank you,” he wrote.

Another SABC newsreader, Thabile Mbele, said it was her last day too.

“What would’ve been my last day of maternity leave marks the last day of my journalism career. I had more highs than lows. I loved my job, told horrific & stories that changed people’s lives, met really wonderful people who supported me. Ngiyabonga kakhulu (thank you),” she said.

Meanwhile, this is what members of the public had to say about the SABC retrenchments.

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