18 May 2017

South Africa: Motsoeneng Loses Bid to Have Disciplinary Hearing, CCMA Process Merged

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng's application to have his disciplinary hearing collapsed into a CCMA process was denied on Thursday.

Motsoeneng had made an application for the matter to be heard concurrently with other charges against him at the CCMA, his lawyer Andy Bester said at his disciplinary hearing.

"It replaces this hearing and it collapses this hearing and a subsequent CCMA hearing into one process," Bester told chairperson Nazeem Cassim.

Motsoeneng is facing charges of bringing the public broadcaster into disrepute and breaching the terms of his suspension following a media briefing he held in Parktown on April 19.

Bester argued that Motsoeneng was within his rights to make comments against the SABC's board as it fell under the protected disclosure section of his contract.

'Embarrassing rant'

He said the charges against Motsoeneng were allegations that needed to be tested by an arbitrator and Cassim should wash his hands of the hearings.

Anton Myburgh, for the SABC, said Motsoeneng went on an "embarrassing rant" against the board during his press briefing. He said one of the requirements for protected disclosure was that it had to be made in good faith.

Motsoeneng had to prove that holding the hearing contravened the protected disclosures section of his contract.

"He must prove that him going to the CCMA is made honestly, sincerely and not with an ulterior motive. What they are really trying to do is to get rid of you as the chair and in effect get these hearings postponed," Myburgh told Cassim.

"There is absolutely no chance of Mr Motsoeneng being able to convince the CCMA that this is a protected disclosure."

Myburgh accused Motsoeneng of using delaying tactics and attempting to remove Cassim as chair.

During his unusually long media briefing, Motsoeneng called the SABC board members liars and expressed his disapproval of them.

He said the parliamentary ad hoc committee, which looked into the previous board's fitness to hold office, caused more problems at the SABC than it intended to solve.

Court defeats

Cassim ruled that he would proceed with the hearing. He did not see how he would undermine the process, he said. Motsoeneng had asked for Cassim to recuse himself as chair of the inquiry because he was not a mutually agreed candidate.

He ordered that the SABC make its arguments before postponing the matter to give Bester time to prepare a rebuttal.

Motsoeneng has suffered one court defeat after another.

In November 2015, the Western Cape High Court declared his appointed as COO irrational and illegal and set it aside. The court denied him leave to appeal. In September 2016, the Supreme Court of Appeal also denied him leave to appeal.

Western Cape High Court Judge Owen Rogers ruled in December 2016 that Motsoeneng could not work at the SABC in any capacity unless former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's February 2014 report was set aside, or a new disciplinary hearing cleared him of wrongdoing.

Rogers said a previous disciplinary hearing, which cleared him of all charges, was "wholly inadequate".

Source: News24

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