SABC probes VBS scandal coverage

SABC's new CEO Madoda Mxakwe.
SABC's new CEO Madoda Mxakwe.

The SABC has announced that it is launching an investigation into the VBS Mutual Bank scandal coverage by its newsroom in Polokwane.

This follows allegations that the public broadcaster's newsroom in Polokwane was compromised. In a statement released on Saturday, the SABC said the decision to conduct an investigation was to establish whether or not the coverage of the VBS Mutual Bank story had breached the ethics and editorial codes.

"SABC reports that it has taken action to investigate possible breaches in its editorial code. This pertains to the manner in which the coverage of the VBS Mutual Bank story was handled by its newsroom in Polokwane.

"The decision is in line with ongoing efforts to ensure that the SABC News' editorial principles of independence and impartiality are upheld at all times.

"Moreover, it is also to safeguard the integrity and credibility of its various news products by ensuring that it delivers content that is fact-driven," reads the statement.

SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu further stated that "should the investigation in Polokwane reveal evidence that the SABC News service's editorial principles of independence and impartiality have been compromised, such violations will be dealt with decisively".

Sunday World can reveal that one of the radio stations targeted for the investigation is Phalaphala FM after a journalist and producer of a current affairs show complained that he was called to order and told to take it easy on Venda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana after he ran a series of shows discussing the VBS saga and the parties involved.

Ramabulana was fingered by advocate Terry Motau's report The Great Bank Heist to have received R17m. The king has since offered to repay the money in a statement issued last week.

Sunday World can further reveal that SABC group CEO Madoda Mxakwe allegedly contacted SABC regional general manager and chastised him about the complaints which were coming from reporters in his region's newsrooms, who alleged there was interference in their reporting on the VBS story.

Another issue that prompted the decision to investigate the newsroom in Limpopo, according to a highly placed source, was a disclaimer which played on radio programmes on Phalaphala FM telling listeners to desist from insulting the leaders who were implicated in the VBS scandal.

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