South Africa: 'The Media's Role Is to Discredit Me', Hlaudi Motsoeneng Tells Zondo Commission

11 September 2019

Despite the Wits Business School denying claims made by embattled former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng that he had lectured at the university, Motsoeneng remains adamant that he was invited on at least three occasions.

During his second day of testimony at the state capture inquiry on Wednesday morning, Motsoeneng told inquiry chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that there was a SABC video clip which showed him lecturing at the university.

"I think the media's role is to discredit me. Yesterday [Tuesday], I spoke about lecturing at Wits - it is true, chairperson. It doesn't mean, when I say I lectured there, I was employed," he said.

He also told Zondo that he was concerned about media reports, which indicated he was at the commission to defend himself.

While testifying on Tuesday afternoon, Motsoeneng said he wanted to thank the SABC, because: "I lecture at the universities. I wonder how many people are saying I am uneducated."

"Even at Wits Business School, I lecture and my lectures about leadership, they have turned them as part of their syllabus. Who said I am uneducated, chairperson?" Hlaudi questioned.

'I am here to tell you the truth, whether wrong or right'

However, Wits University hit back in a tweet, saying: "Hlaudi Motsoeneng was invited to take part in a breakfast panel discussion at WBS on 6 Dec 2013. A guest speaker does not make an academic.

"At no stage has Mr Motsoeneng lectured at WBS, nor has any material authored by him formed part of the curriculum of any of our programmes."But Motsoeneng responded to this on Wednesday, saying the tweet is wrong. "The media has twisted what I said in this commission, chairperson."

"I am here to tell you the truth, whether wrong or right," he added.

Motsoeneng also told the commission about the decision he made in 2016 to ban protest coverage at the SABC.

He said he made the decision as the COO at the time, and he took ownership.

"I stand by the decision, wrong or right," he said.

Motsoeneng previously told the commission that the decision he made to ban the coverage of protests in 2016 was within the scope of the Broadcasting Act, adding that it was his job to interfere in certain decisions, News24 earlier reported.

Newsroom 'abused'

Last week, one of the so-called SABC 8, Krivani Pillay, told the commission that when Motsoeneng decided to ban the coverage of protest action in 2016, it was the start of alleged capture.

Pillay said Motsoeneng cancelled a show on SAfm after it criticised his decision. She also told Zondo that the newsroom had been "abused" and that there were a lot of people who disagreed with him.

The SABC 8 was the name given to eight journalists who were fired after they spoke out against Motsoeneng's censorship of protest footage.

The eight journalists were Vuyo Mvoko, Thandeka Gqubule-Mbeki, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay, Lukhanyo Calata, Foeta Krige, Jacques Steenkamp and Busisiwe Ntuli.

In June 2017, Venter died, reportedly from "broken heart disease".

Pillay said, as the executive producer of The Editors Show on SAfm at the time, she learnt about the protest footage policy through the SABC's media statement in May 2016. She said Motsoeneng's decision was discussed and criticised on the show.

But this did not sit well with the former COO.

Pillay said, after 48 hours, Motsoeneng called her and Krige into a meeting, saying that the programme had brought the SABC into disrepute. She said the show was cancelled immediately.

Source: News24

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