16 March 2018

South Africa: Motsoeneng Laughs Off DA Suggestion He Should Pay Back Legal Fees

Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has laughed off the DA's suggestion that he should pay back legal fees spent on various cases while he was an executive at the public broadcaster.

The DA on Thursday called on Motsoeneng to pay back R22m in legal fees spent fighting battles in court during his tumultuous tenure at the SABC.

This, after the communications ministry revealed in a parliamentary reply on Wednesday that Motsoeneng had been involved in 15 different cases since 2013 at the SABC.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme said the SABC shouldn't have to pay for the legal fees of a "one-man wrecking ball", and that the money could be used to help the broadcaster recover financially.

The former executive however laughed at the idea when asked about the DA's demand.

"No, no, no, remember, if you are an employee of the SABC, and you are a director or executive, there is insurance that pays," he told News24 when contacted on Thursday.

"All the directors, even the current one, there is insurance (for litigation against the SABC)."

He said the cases were related to work he did as a director for the broadcaster, and were not personal matters.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago on Thursday confirmed that all the cases in question were undertaken in Motsoeneng's capacity as a director at the SABC.

"The SABC was also a respondent in these cases," he said.

The cases include a R5.3m battle against the DA over the Public Protector's remedial findings against the SABC, and R4.9m spent on "various board matters".

Van Damme said apart from the R22m, Motsoeneng must also pay back R21m relating to a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) summons to recoup the money from Motsoeneng for different matters.

Motsoeneng said he didn't want to jeopardise the legal process by commenting on the summons, and said he would be filing a responding affidavit soon.

"We will deal with all those issues in court. I can't talk about them because they are already court matters and I want to respect that process."

The R21m is related to other matters, he said, including allegations that he irregularly appointed officials, his settlement and dismissal from the SABC.

In response to the DA's calls for the R21m to be recouped, Kganyago said that was a task for the SIU.

"As such it is the SIU which will determine whether or not to pursue the individual concerned for the recovery of any monies in this regard, as well as the timelines such an exercise will take."

Motsoeneng is currently engaged in a labour dispute at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) over his dismissal, which coincidentally wrapped up on Thursday, and will reconvene in May.

He said he hadn't started a new job yet, as his sole focus at the moment was the various disputes he was involved in.

"I can't do anything because my focus is on this battle. I will decide after this battle what to do.

"When you go to the CCMA, you believe you have a winnable case. The issue I'm challenging is unfair dismissal. I can't say if I'm going to win, but we want to prove if the dismissal was fair."

He said the SABC must prove that his firing was fair.

"The ball's in their court," he added.

Source: News24

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