The Constitutional Court must order Parliament to probe its own decisions around recent events at the public broadcaster, the SABC 8 have said in court papers.
In papers filed on Friday, the eight journalists, who were fired and then rehired by the SABC in September following a lengthy High Court battle, want the National Assembly to institute an inquiry into the various issues plaguing the broadcaster, including their firings.
The court papers say the portfolio committee on communications neglected its constitutional duty when it failed to hear the pleas of the journalists to attend a sitting and explain their cases in July.
Rather, it opted to conclude that their issues had been “resolved” following a Labour Court ruling that their dismissals be set aside and a statement from then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng at a committee meeting in August.
“We submit that conduct of the portfolio committee in this regard amounts to a patent breach of its constitutional obligations,” the papers read.
“Far from exercising oversight over the SABC and ensuring that the SABC was accountable to it, it proceeded to wash its hands of the issue.”
Waiting for responses
Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) were also listed as respondents in the papers.
Only the SABC and Mbete had responded, the papers said. Both opposed the application.
They were still waiting for a response from Icasa and portfolio committee chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana.
The SABC came in for criticism in July when it fired Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay, Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata, Vuyo Mvoko and Jacques Steenkamp for speaking out against the broadcaster’s policy to not show footage of violent protests.
Seven were reinstated when the Labour Court set aside the dismissal on July 26. Mvoko, who was employed as a freelancer, lost his case against the SABC.
Steenkamp has since resigned from the SABC and will take up a new post in New Zealand in November.
Motsoeneng meanwhile was removed as COO in September following a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that his appointment to that position be set aside, but was reappointed to general executive for corporate affairs this month.