Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng failed to appear in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday to answer as to why he should not be held personally liable for the wrongful dismissal of the SABC8 journalists.
No reasons were given on why Motsoeneng failed to present himself to the court.
The court also heard that attorneys from Ningiza Horner who were representing the SABC, Motsoeneng and former head of news Simon Tebele, withdrew on Friday.
Tebele, who said he was surprised by the attorneys’ decision to withdraw, asked for a postponement due to poor health.
“I was in hospital from May to July and I went through a seven hours operation. Even now I am still recuperating from heavy pain – yesterday I received an SMS indicating that the court case is today [Tuesday],” he said.
He also said he didn’t have time to brief his new attorney.
Judge David Gush, presiding over the matter, postponed it to September 6.
Internal disciplinary hearing
In July 2016, the late Suna Venter, Foeta Krige, Krivani Pillay, Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli, Lukhanyo Calata, Vuyo Mvoko and Jacques Steenkamp were fired by the SABC for speaking out against Motsoeneng’s policy of no longer airing footage of violent protests.
Seven of the eight journalists were subsequently re-hired following a High Court ruling.
Motsoeneng was removed as COO after the Supreme Court of Appeal in September last year rejected his bid to appeal the Western Cape High Court’s November 2015 ruling, declaring his appointment irrational and setting it aside.
In June, the SABC announced Motsoeneng’s dismissal after he was found guilty by an internal disciplinary hearing where charges of bringing the SABC into disrepute and causing irreparable damage to his employer were investigated.
The internal disciplinary committee found that he lied about his qualifications, that he purged the SABC of staff and promoted people and raised salaries without following the correct procedures.