Cape Town -
The legal battle over the appointment of SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng could soon go to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) - and the DA has made a bid for him to be suspended pending the outcome.
The Western Cape High Court gave a judgment in October in which Judge Ashton Schippers ordered that the public broadcaster commence disciplinary proceedings against Motsoeneng.
He was to be suspended with full pay, pending the finalisation of the proceedings.
But Motsoeneng filed for leave to appeal just a couple of days after the judgment was delivered.
This suspended the effect of the order, pending the outcome of the appeal process, said his attorney Zola Majavu on Thursday, meaning Motsoeneng had been carrying out his duties as usual.
Judge Schippers heard arguments on Thursday in a bid for leave to appeal by Motsoeneng, the SABC, Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and Public Protector Thuli Mandonsela.
Advocate Norman Arendse, SC, for Motsoeneng, described the order of the court as “wide-reaching and serious”.
At the heart of the matter, he said, were the powers of the public protector, the status of her findings and recommendations, and whether they were binding on parties.
Arendse said these issues needed to come before the SCA as soon as possible.
The court also heard an application by the DA, which brought the matter to court (seeking interim relief pending a review of the decision to appoint Motsoeneng), for Judge Schippers’ order to have effect, pending the outcome of the appeal process.
The permanent appointment of Motsoeneng was announced in July by Muthambi, who made the decision to appoint him.
This followed the release of a report involving Motsoeneng by Madonsela in February, while he was acting chief operating officer.
Among her findings was that his salary increased from R1.5 million to R2.4m in one year, that he had purged senior staff and that he had misrepresented his matric qualifications to the SABC.
Among the arguments advanced by advocate Anton Katz, SC, for the DA, which opposed all four bids for leave to appeal, was that the issue in the case was whether Motsoeneng’s appointment was valid.
Katz later said the court had found that there was a need for Motsoeneng to be suspended, as well as for disciplinary proceedings to be instituted, asking how it could be that the order should not be given effect.
Arendse, however, contended there was no evidence that Motsoeneng should be removed from the SABC workers, or that his presence there had caused the SABC to become “dysfunctional” or perform at a lower level.
“He has interests to protect,” he said, arguing that Motsoeneng should be granted leave to appeal.
“It’s only right, fair and just that he participates in the appeal proceedings.”
Judge Schippers reserved judgment.