The SABC is remaining defiant to South Africa’s courts, blocking sacked journalists from returning to work while it appeals a Labour Court ruling overturning their dismissal.
On Tuesday, the Labour Court ruled that four of the “SABC 8” – Foeta Krige‚ Suna Venter‚ Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp – were unlawfully dismissed, and said that they could return to work.
However, following the ruling, trade union Solidarity – representing the journalists – received a letter from the SABC’s legal team saying that the four could not return to work, pending an appeal to the ruling.
The letter, from Ningiza Horner Inc. Attorneys reads:
RE: SOLIDARITY obo 4 OTHERS/SABC – CASE NO: J1343/16
We refer to the above matter and advise that our client intends to appeal judgement rendered today, the 26th July 2016.
In the premise, please be advised that your client may not report for duty pending the outcome of the appeal
Solidarity now intends to submit and urgent bid to force the SABC to take the workers back, it said.
The remaining journalists are still fighting their dismissal, while all have applied for direct access to the Constitutional Court on the matter.
The journalists were suspended and then fired for speaking out against the SABC’s censorship policy, which saw “violent protest” footage banned from SABC channels. Other effects of the policy saw a number of news programmes canned or altered.
The policy was widely criticised and ultimately challenged in the High Court, though the broadcaster remained defiant and kept the policy going.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) ruled on July 11 that the SABC had to withdraw its resolution, announced in May, to ban showing footage of violent protests.
SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng initially said after the ruling that no one could tell the SABC what to do and that they would challenge Icasa’s decision in court. However, in a surprise turn Icasa said on Wednesday afternoon that the SABC agreed to comply with the ruling.