SABC board says it takes complaints by Phathiswa Magopeni ‘seriously’ and will process them fairly

02 December 2021 - 19:09
By Iavan Pijoos
The SABC expects to start a disciplinary process against its head of news Phathiswa Magopeni in early December. File photo.
Image: MOELETSI MABE The SABC expects to start a disciplinary process against its head of news Phathiswa Magopeni in early December. File photo.

The SABC on Thursday said it takes the complaints lodged against the public broadcaster’s CEO Madoda Mxakwe by its editor-in-chief and head of news Phathiswa Magopeni “seriously”, and promised that the matter will be processed fairly.

“The board assures that the matter is being processed fairly and in accordance with SABC policies. The board believes that the processes under way should be allowed to conclude and will not comment further at this stage,” SABC spokesperson Gugu Ntuli said.

This comes after Magopeni lodged a formal complaint on several issues against Mxakwe, including alleged editorial interference, abuse of power and attempts to remove her from her position.

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE earlier reported that Magopeni accused Mxakwe, in her complaint to the SABC board, of using the Special Assignment issue to “destroy” and “hound” her out of the public broadcaster.

She has also laid a similar complaint against SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini.

In a nine-page letter seen by TimesLIVE, Magopeni painted a grim picture of how the public broadcaster’s CEO and chair tried to force her to approve an unscheduled interview with ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa in the run-up to the recent local government elections.

Her refusal, she claimed, and the preceding complaints from the ANC about how the SABC covered its election campaign, could be the reason there is an attempt to place the blame on her for the Special Assignment error and ultimately remove her from the SABC.

She detailed how Mxakwe specifically flouted administrative processes to ensure she took the fall for the erroneous airing of the Special Assignment episode.

“His doggedness in using the Special Assignment incident against me was blatant right from the start, even before I could submit the report he had asked for,” Magopeni said in the letter dated November 29.

Magopeni also accused Mxakwe and Makhathini of editorial interference for allegedly exerting pressure on her for an interview with Ramaphosa during his campaign trail in Limpopo.

Magopeni detailed other instances that pointed to alleged abuse of power by the CEO and board chair.

She claimed the SABC newsroom has been gagged on reporting about her charges and impending disciplinary hearing. She said the public broadcaster has made it impossible to report on the matter as questions sent to the spokesperson are met with a “no comment” while information is shared with other media. 

Magopeni said she is also being prevented from speaking out about her charges.