Johannesburg — Successive SABC boards allowed controversial acting chief operations officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng to operate above the law, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Monday.
She released a report titled "When governance and ethics fail" at a media briefing in Pretoria.
The report recommends that the SABC board institute corrective action against the "dishonest" Motsoeneng.
"The SABC board should ensure that all monies are recovered which were irregularly spent through unlawful and improper actions," Madonsela said.
"The board should take disciplinary action against Mr Motsoeneng for his dishonesty relating to the misrepresentation of his qualification, abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments of Ms Sully Motsweni [SABC head of compliance and acting group executive]."
Madonsela found that Motsoeneng irregularly and rapidly increased the salaries of various staff members, resulting in the state broadcaster footing an unprecedented salary bill escalation of R29 million.
"He unilaterally increased [the] salaries of Ms Motsweni, Ms Thobekile Khumalo, Mr Hannes du Buisson, and certain freelancers without following parts of the SABC personnel regulations.
"Mr Motsoeneng's conduct in this regard was irregular and amounts to improper conduct and maladministration," said Madonsela.
Earlier, Madonsela said Motsoeneng's appointment was irregular.
Her investigation dwelt on allegations of Motsoeneng's alleged irregular appointment and a crooked salary progression.
"The allegation that Mr Motsoeneng's salary progression was irregular is substantiated in that he received salary appraisals three times in one year as alleged, hiking his salary as executive manager [for] stakeholder relations from R1.5 million to R2.4 million."
"His salary progression as the acting COO concomitantly rose irregularly from R122,961 to R211,172 (a 63 percent increase) in 12 months and was in violation of the SABC personnel regulations and constitutes improper conduct and maladministration," she said.
Complaints against Motsoeneng were raised with Madonsela by former SABC staff -- including former chief operations officer Charlotte Mampane and ex-SABC senior executive Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande.
Motsoeneng was also investigated for fraudulently misrepresenting his qualifications to the SABC, including that he had passed matric when he applied for employment.
Madonsela said allegations that Motsoeneng committed fraud by stating in his application form that he had completed matric at Metsimantsho High School in QwaQwa were also substantiated.
"By his own admission, Mr Motsoeneng stated in his application form that he had passed matric, filled in made-up symbols in the same application form, and promised to supply a matric certificate to confirm his qualifications when he knew he did not have the promised certificate, [this] was admitted by him during an interview.
"Mr Motsoeneng would have never been appointed in 1995 had he not lied about his qualification and... he repeated that lie in 2003 when he applied for the post of executive producer: current affairs to which he accordingly should have never been appointed," said Madonsela.
She said it was worrying that Motsoeneng's file "disappeared" at the SABC amid his denial of falsifying qualifications.
"At one point he used the absence of evidence to support his contention that there was no evidence of his alleged fraudulent misrepresentation," said Madonsela.
"The circumstantial evidence points to a motive on his part although incontrovertible evidence to allow a definite conclusion that he did in fact cause the disappearance of his employment records, particularly his application forms and CV, could not be found."
The public protector investigations also revealed that allegations of irregularities in the appointment of Motsweni to several posts and her resultant salary increase, which took her from R960,500 per annum to R1.5m, were valid.
Madonsela urged Communications Minister Yunus Carrim to take urgent steps to fill the "long outstanding vacant post of COO" with a suitably qualified permanent incumbent within 90 days.
She also urged Carrim to establish why group chief executive officers at the SABC cannot function and leave prematurely, causing financial and operational strains.