The Chief Operations Officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng has instructed his lawyers to appeal the order that was meant to suspend him which was issued by the Western Cape High Court on Friday. Judge Schippers had earlier on Friday passed judgement in which he recommended the immediate suspension of the COO and that he faces a disciplinary hearing. In his judgement, the High Court judge said, “Pending the finalisation of the disciplinary proceedings, Motsoeneng shall be suspended on full pay.” Judge Schippers ordered that the national broadcaster, its chairperson and the Minister of communication, Faith Muthambi pay the costs of the court application.
This case follows up from earlier in the year when the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, released a report in February in which she unequivocally stated that there were several irregularities in the appointment of Motsoeneng and also what transpired after his appointment as COO of the SABC. She found first that he had misrepresented his qualifications to the SABC Board when he had applied for the position. In addition, Madonsela found that the increase in salary of the COO from R1.5 million to R2.4 million while he was still in an acting capacity was highly irregular. More sinister in her findings, she found that Motsoeneng had purged most of the senior personnel who had apparently not seen eye to eye with him. This, Madonsela revealed, had led to the SABC to pay a fortune in severance packages to the purged employees. The Public Protector had recommended that the new COO be appointed at the SABC within three calendar months.
However, despite this body of knowledge, the then new minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi confirmed Motsoeneng as the substantive head of operations at the government controlled broadcaster. The Democratic Alliance then launched a high court application to have his appointment set aside, which application will be heard in 2015.
In response to Friday’s Western Cape High Court ruling that he be suspended immediately with full pay, Hlaudi Motsoeneng said, “I have instructed my lawyers to appeal with immediate effect.” He added that he felt a different court would have come up with a different ruling. His lawyer, Zola Majavu, confirmed that his client would be challenging the High Court ruling, adding that their appeal would put the ruling on hold.