SABC caves – lets fired journalists return to work

The The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has relented to demands that it allow its fired employees return to work.

Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday issued an ultimatum to the broadcaster, demanding that it reinstate the employees as ordered by the Labour Court, or face further legal action.

In what it calls a “final victory over the SABC’s censorship policy”, the broadcaster relented to the demand.

The SABC confirmed in writing that the so-called “SABC 4” may return to work on Thursday.

“Solidarity and the journalists are obviously very relieved about the latest development. However, we are disappointed that we had to threaten further court action before the dismissed journalists were allowed back at work,” said Solidarity head, Dirk Hermann.

“The journalists are also relieved that they will now be able to do what they do best – namely to report objectively, especially on the coming local elections.”

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.

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SABC caves – lets fired journalists return to work