Court dismisses pension fund's R760m claim against SABC

The Government Employees Pension Fund was claiming R760m from the state broadcaster

18 January 2021 - 15:31
By mpumzi zuzile AND Mpumzi Zuzile
The long-standing matter, which commenced in 2004, was based on an alleged breach of a lease agreement by the SABC and the premature vacating of the Bophuthatswana Recording Studio. The GEPF claimed this resulted in a loss of rental income. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Evgenyi Lastochkin The long-standing matter, which commenced in 2004, was based on an alleged breach of a lease agreement by the SABC and the premature vacating of the Bophuthatswana Recording Studio. The GEPF claimed this resulted in a loss of rental income. Stock photo.

The Gauteng high court last week dismissed an application by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) against the SABC in a matter involving about R760m.

The long-standing matter, which commenced in March 2004, was based on an alleged breach of a lease agreement by the SABC and the premature vacating of the Bophuthatswana Recording Studios, which resulted in a loss of rental income for the GEPF.

The GEPF wanted the SABC to be held liable and pay about R760m in outstanding rental, as a consequence of occupying and using the studio complex.

The high court dismissed the application, with costs.

The GEPF, in its application, said the move had left it with a loss of rental income, and asked that the court order the SABC to be held liable for the outstanding rental.

In its papers to court, the GEPF claimed that the SABC owed the amount based on a partly oral and partly written lease agreement with the state broadcaster. GEPF also claimed that the amount emanated from the SABC's alleged premature vacation of its premises.

In its papers, the SABC denied that a lease agreement was ever conducted between itself and GEPF.

In his judgment, judge Lebogang Modiba found that the evidence of the GEPF witnesses had serious shortcomings.

“With the GEPF having failed to establish liability on the part of the SABC, there is no case for the third parties to answer to,” Madiba ruled.

She further ruled that the case reflected a grave co-operative governance failure as the case involved two government institutions.

“Governmental institutions are creatures of the constitution as well as the statutes that amplify the implementation of the applicable constitutional provisions. It is regrettable that the court has been drawn into disputes between the parties,” Modiba ruled.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said the broadcaster welcomed the judgment, saying  the matter had been in court since 2004.

GEPF spokesperson Matau Molapo referred TimesLIVE to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) for responses. This story will be updated when that response is received.

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