Johannesburg - Court documents have shown how a top SABC executive deceived their chief financial officer into bankrolling her family and friends’ travel and accommodation expenses, at a time when the public broadcaster was cash-strapped.
Suspended SABC group sports executive Sully Motsweni’s alleged three-year spending spree began in April 2014 and ended in April last year.
Motsweni, a former colleague of ex-SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, allegedly duped the SABC into financing her relatives’ trips to attend company-sponsored events across the country, resulting in a loss of R45182.
She allegedly used her position as the sports executive to get approval for the trips. The money covered air tickets and accommodation.
This occurred at a time when the SABC’s finances had hit rock-bottom, forcing Motsoeneng to lead an aggressive campaign to recover outstanding TV licence fees.
Motsweni was arrested on Wednesday morning at her home in Boksburg after the police had informed her the night before of their investigation into 11 counts of fraud against her.
She appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Crime Court and was granted bail of R5000.
Court documents, which The Star has seen, allege that Motsweni misled the now acting chief financial officer, Thabile Sylvia Dlamini, into believing that the people she was travelling with were officials who needed to attend the public broadcaster’s events.
The documents further show that the corporation footed the bill for Motsweni’s mother’s trips to the Crown Gospel Awards in 2014 and 2015.
Her two friends who accompanied her were also paid for by the SABC.
Dlamini was again tricked into paying for trips and accommodation for Motsweni’s three children and their friend to attend the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in 2014 and last year. She claimed her sons, all over 18, were athletes in the marathon.
The State claims Motsweni made a misrepresentation and she knew that “* Thando and *Thabo were her children and not athletes going to run or participate in the marathon and that the said persons were not and would not add value to the SABC brand,” the court papers said.
Insiders at the SABC told The Star that Motsweni had fallen out with many of her colleagues, because of her perceived allegiance to Motsoeneng.
In her 2014 report entitled “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, former public protector Thuli Madonsela fingered Motsweni for having benefited handsomely when Motsoeneng abused his power by hiring her as general manager of compliance, operation and stakeholder relations in 2011 and then promoted her to acting group executive in risk and governance the following year.
This saw her salary shoot up from R960500 a year to R1.5million, exposing Motsoeneng as having favourites.
“The human resources records show that Ms Sully Motsweni’s appointments and salary progressions were done without following proper procedures and was in violation of personnel regulations, was irregular and constitutes abuse of power and maladministration,” Madonsela’s report states.
Motsweni was also accused of orchestrating the resignation of sports anchor Robert Marawa from the SABC last year.
Two weeks prior to this, Marawa had removed himself from his Metro FM slot following the suspension of his radio show producer Beverly Maphangwa, which he deemed unfair.
Motsweni, along with several other managers, were suspended last year for approving two contracts worth R18m, which were not budgeted for.
SABC staff said Motsweni’s arrest was the culmination of the clean-up under the new board.
“Hlaudi (Motsoeneng) left behind a lot of rot. His rivals are now digging up the dirt by exposing the corruption that he allowed to manifest under his watch.
“More people who benefited by abusing the company’s systems will also be exposed,” said an employee.
Motsoeneng was not aware of the case when asked for comment. “At the SABC I didn’t have any close friends, I only had colleagues. I treated everybody equally,” he said.
During Wednesday’s bail application, Motsweni cut a lonely figure in the dock, next to two men in grimy clothes who had been arrested for unrelated crimes. She wore a velvet hat and black coat, and sported purple nail polish.