SABC bosses' legal battles rage on

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

The war between the SABC and its axed general manager for commercial enterprises Nompumelelo Phasha is far from over.

Phasha's labour court victory on Wednesday against SABC's top mandarins is likely to be short-lived as she still has to face a CCMA pre-dismissal hearing.

Phasha successfully challenged the decision by the SABC to terminate her employment at the court, which ruled that she must be reinstated to her position pending the outcome of the disciplinary processes at the CCMA. 

The labour court ruling comes after the SABC fired Phasha in a letter dated December 31 2018, arguing that she had committed a breach of trust with her recusal applications filed against CCMA commissioners Motlatsi Phala and Terry Moodley.

In her application Phasha accused the commissioners, the SABC and Werksmans Attorneys of collusion and bias to ensure that all matters between the SABC and its employees lead to dismissals.

According to the dismissal letter authored by CEO Madoda Mxakwe, seen by Sunday World, the SABC said the decision to fire her had nothing to do with the allegations of misconduct levelled against her.

"The termination has everything to do with the subsequent breach of trust demonstrated in your recusal applications. You are hereby dismissed with immediate effect."

Before the dismissal letter, documents seen by Sunday World show that Phasha was sent a letter by SABC's head of legal services Ntuthuzelo Vanara dated December 18 2018, communicating the SABC's intention to dismiss her.

In the letter, Vanara said the SABC had considered the manner in which Phasha had instituted the recusal applications for senior commissioners Phala and Moodley.

"The manner in which you tendered your reasons for their recusal and unsubstantiated content contained in your affidavits sought to bring the company's name into disrepute," reads part of Vanara's letter.

Vanara said Phasha made malicious and false accusations regarding the company, Phala and the CCMA.

"...You state that Mr Phala and Mr July have connived to have all matters handled between them leading into dismissal of SABC employees."

Vanara also said that Phasha tendered scandalous and false accusations regarding the relationship between the SABC, Moodley, and the CCMA in another recusal application.

According to Vanara, Phasha's reason to also get Moodley recused was because he presided over the matter between the SABC and former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who she used to report to.

Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara.
Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara.

In the letter, Vanara further states that Phasha made allegations without tendering evidence to support the accusations.

However, before the pre-dismissal disciplinary hearing process could get under way at the CCMA, Phasha was asked to provide reasons why she should not be suspended by the SABC.

At the heart of the disciplinary process against her are allegations that Phasha sat on a tender bid evaluation committee that oversaw her uncle's company's bid for the 2015 Metro FM awards .

Other allegations included that she failed to inform the SABC that her uncle's company had secured a liquor sponsor for an amount of R1.8m despite being contracted to provide such a service at a price of R14 m.

In a media statement on Thursday, the SABC confirmed that the allegations were behind the suspension and subsequent dismissal of Phasha, including some of her submissions at the CCMA.

Sunday World has also seen charges which were preferred against Phasha before she opted for the CCMA process.

Dated August 7 2018 and November 5 2018, Phasha's charge sheet has 8 charges relating to the findings of an internal forensic investigation.

The charges include Phasha's alleged refusal to recuse herself in the procurement process to source services from her relative's company Rockstar Entertainment, owned by a Mr Monde Africa.

Phasha was also accused of a breach of trust contravention of the SABC conflict of interest policy on allegations that she refused to comply with an instruction to present her cellphone for interception to prove that she was not the one who leaked confidential information about plans by the SABC to retrench staff members to the media.

The conflict of interest stems from allegations that Phasha assisted one of her colleagues who was fired by the organisation to prepare an appeal against the SABC.

When contacted for comment about the charges and the labour court ruling on her matter, Phasha said the charges levelled against her were fictitious and thumb -sucked.

She said she declared to the panel that she was related to one of the bidders.

"I did not participate in the appointment of the service provider, I sat on the bid evaluation committee for quality assurance purpose," she said.

She said allegations that she leaked confidential information to the media were not true.

"The decision to fire was taken after they saw that they had no case against me. They chose a short-cut to fire me," she said, adding that she cannot be blamed for not informing the SABC about the liquor sponsor.

Phasha confirmed that she assisted one of her colleagues with his appeal, but said it was not illegal to do so. 

‘Insinuation of collusion is defamatory and malicious’ 

Werksmans Attorneys comment

Speaking for Sandile July and Werksmans Attorneys, Corlett Manaka said: "Any insinuation that Werksmans and or Sandile July colluded with the CCMA in the appointment of advocate Motlatsi Phala as the arbitrator is malicious, accusatory, baseless and defamatory. These allegations were indeed challenged at the CCMA."

He also said the law firm filed an appeal against the judgment which also ruled that July, Madoda Mxakwe and Ntuthuzelo Vanara must pay Nompumelelo Phasha's legal costs from their own pockets.

In a statement released on Friday, SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu confirmed the charges faced by Phasha.Momodu also confirmed that Phasha was fired for bringing the SABC into disrepute.  About the labour court judgment which reinstated Phasha, Momodu said the ruling was not in relation to the charges Phasha was still facing, but rather on the processes undertaken in her dismissal from the SABC.

"This means that Ms Phasha is still on suspension on the gross misconduct charges levelled against her."

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