SABC bosses slated for ignoring CCMA

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe.
SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe.
Image: Supplied

SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe and CFO Yolande van Biljon have been chastised by a labour court judge for allegedly defying a subpoena issued by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

This comes after the SABC and its executives had filed an application before the labour court earlier this month asking the court to set aside four subpoenas issued against them by the CCMA in the matter between the SABC and its axed general manager for supply chain management and special projects Ayanda Mkhize. 

Mkhize challenged her dismissal at the CCMA, arguing that the employer's processes were not fair.

The papers show that Mkhize was fired on October 17 last year for misconduct based on allegations of tender irregularities. The SABC had claimed that Mkhize deleted certain documents from her work laptop implicating her in the irregularities.

However, the papers show that despite an arbitration hearing set by the CCMA for August 21, and all parties being informed, three SABC executives and their attorney, who were listed as witnesses by Mkhize, elected not to participate in the process, leading to the subpoenas being issued against them.

Mxakwe, Van Biljon, IT practitioner Manuel de Oliviera, as well as Werksmans Attorneys' Sandile July, were subpoenaed to attend the hearing for questioning and were expected to produce any evidence relied upon by the SABC when dismissing Mkhize.

According to Mkhize's replying affidavit and the subpoenas issued against the SABC officials dated August 5, Mxakwe instructed the SABC to conduct a forensic investigation into allegations that Mkhize wiped documents implicating her in tender irregularities.

In the affidavit, Mkhize asked Mxakwe to be presented as a witness as he was in possession of a forensic report that led to the disciplinary hearing against her. She said the SABC and its CEO had refused to hand over the forensic report.

Mkhize also asked for Van Biljon to avail herself as a witness, arguing that the CFO initiated disciplinary proceedings against her and later abandoned them in favour of a dismissal based on breach of trust.

Arguing for the subpoena of De Oliviera, Mkhize said the IT specialist conducted the forensic investigations and examined her computer, and that it was his findings that led to her dismissal.

The SABC executives and their lawyers challenged the subpoenas, arguing it was an abuse of process and therefore irregular and invalid.

The SABC argued its executives were too busy running the state entity to attend the arbitration hearing for two days. In the same application, the SABC had urged the labour court to intervene in the matter arguing that its refusal to do so would have dire consequences in that other dismissed employees could simply have subpoenas issued as a strategy of harassment, in the course of arbitration hearings.

However, judge Andre van Niekerk disagreed and dismissed the SABC's application with costs, stating the public broadcaster failed to convince him that the labour court had jurisdiction on the matter.

Van Niekerk said he was convinced that the CCMA director had followed all the processes in issuing the subpoenas and he ordered the executives to go back to the CCMA and argue their position there.

Mkhize declined to comment on the matter.

SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu hit back, saying Mkhize was appointed irregularly to begin with and accused her of being malicious with her CCMA subpoenas. He also said the trust between her and the broadcaster had broken down, therefore she could not be reappointed.