SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng cleared of all charges

December 13, 2015, 7:55am

Alwyn Kloppers, provincial GM of Gauteng SABC and suspended South African Broadcasting Corporation chief operation officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the latter's disciplinary hearing in Sandton on Thursday. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

By Karl Gernetzky, Business Day Live

SOUTH African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng will return to work at the broadcaster on Monday after being cleared of charges he misrepresented his qualifications and abused his power during his career there.

The disciplinary hearing against Mr Motsoeneng concluded on Saturday with hearing chairman Willem Edeling dismissing all charges, citing insufficient evidence and disparities in the veracity of testimony between defence and prosecution witnesses.

In October the SABC had charged Mr Motsoeneng with gross dishonesty, gross misconduct and abuse of power. He allegedly lied about his matric qualification, unilaterally increased salaries, and irregularly dismissed staff. This had followed a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that such a disciplinary procedure should take place, in a judgement that had reaffirmed the powers of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

The public protector had delivered a report in 2014 that was scathing of the governance and oversight structures of the SABC, recommending disciplinary action against Mr Motsoeneng for alleged deceit regarding his educational history, irregularly increasing his salary, and dismissing staff apparently due to opposition to his policies.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) had waged a protracted legal battle through numerous courts seeking a disciplinary hearing in line with the public protector’s recommendations and to establish the facts.

Mr Edeling concluded during his ruling on Saturday that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Mr Motsoeneng has misled the public broadcaster, the charge with "the most meat around it".

Key to the dismissal was the testimony of defence witness Alwyn Kloppers, who had said that he had been instrumental in hiring Mr Motsoeneng, and that it was common knowledge within the broadcaster that he had no had formal qualifications.

Mr Edeling further concluded that the three witnesses for the prosecution was coherent, but that the witness "that really points a finger" could have been misled by other individuals within the organisation.

"I never had any impression that any of them were bad in the sense of intentionally lying or trying to manipulate any one of us here," he said.

Mr Motsoeneng, who was flanked by dozens of supporters as well as his family during the ruling, said on Saturday he had been vindicated.

"I am moving forward, I am going to transform that organisation," he said.

"I know that the SABC supports Hlaudi unconditionally. I am a visionary, I am borne leader ," said Mr Motsoeneng.

The DA said in a statement on Saturday it would seek a transcript of the hearing, and "almost certainly take it under review".

Chairman of the DA’s federal executive James Selfe said proceedings gave every indication of having been a successful "white wash" sought by both the broadcaster and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi. The DA on Saturday described the process as a "farcical stitch-up job".