I’m ‘unemployable’‚ says Hlaudi in an attempt to halt disciplinary hearing

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, seen during his disciplinary hearing. Picture: Alon Skuy/The Times
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, seen during his disciplinary hearing. Picture: Alon Skuy/The Times

Suspended SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng wants to clear his name from damning findings contained in the Public Protector’s report three years ago‚ claiming it has “stunted” his career progression.

Motsoeneng made this disclosure in court papers quietly filed in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday ahead if his latest disciplinary hearing which started on Wednesday afternoon.

He is seeking a court order interdicting the hearing from going ahead‚ until he is afforded an opportunity to deal with the Public Protector findings.

 In light of the court case his lawyers have asked that the hearing be postponed.

They have also told the hearing that the charges are without merit.

Advocate Andy Bester‚ arguing on behalf of Motsoeneng‚ said his legal team has not had enough time to prepare themselves for this hearing.

“The charge sheet only arrived yesterday after the issue of this application‚” Bester said.

 Bester said the SABC had prejudiced Motsoeneng “because the proceedings are not properly constituted and it ties closely with the fact that he says there is an ulterior motive.”

 However‚ advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi‚ representing the SABC‚ said there was no basis for this argument.

 He said the disciplinary hearing afforded Motsoeneng an opportunity to present his version of events.

 In his high court affidavit‚ Motsoeneng accuses the current SABC interim board of being in contempt of last year’s court order‚ which instructed the broadcaster to institute disciplinary hearings based on the Public Protector’s remedial action.

 Then public protector Thuli Madonsela found that Motsoeneng’s employment at the SABC was irregular as he lacked certain academic qualifications. He had misled the SABC‚ which irregularly increased his salary on at least three occasions.

 Motsoeneng is arguing that the current disciplinary hearing should only deal with the original charges‚ relating to Public Protector’s report.

 Motsoeneng is facing additional charges of bringing the SABC into disrepute. These charges were added to his case following a media briefing last month in which he criticised some members of the interim board.

“The new disciplinary inquiry is an abuse (of process) stemming from ulterior motives‚” Motsoeneng says in his court papers.

“The very nature of that office (Public Protector) is that its conclusions hold weight in the public discourse‚ and as the Democratic Alliance argued‚ I am ‘unemployable’ for so long as its conclusions stand.

 “My further career progression is thus stunted until the issues raised by the Public Protector are finalised‚” he says in court papers.

He said the public protector’s remedial action directed the SABC to subject him to a disciplinary inquiry in respect of certain matters highlighted in Madonsela’s report.

 “It should be evident that the need to hold that inquiry is both in my interests and the public interest‚” argues Motsoeneng.

He said the SABC has in instead instituted new disciplinary proceedings against him‚ raising new charges flowing from events that took place after last year’s court order “without any reference to the court ordered disciplinary inquiry“.

“I contend that the SABC‚ represented by the interim board‚ has unlawfully‚ or irrationally‚ exercised public power in instituting that inquiry‚” said Motsoeneng.

 Motsoeneng has applied to the high court on a semi-urgent basis‚ but no hearing date has been set.

“We want them to be combined — not to do this one and then another one. We run the risk that they will fire for this and if they fire him‚ he doesn’t get a chance to vindicate himself on the Public Protector’s report. We are not saying we don’t want a disciplinary hearing‚ we are simply saying [the chairperson] must combine them‚ that’s all‚” said Zola Majavu‚ Motsoeneng’s attorney.