Has the Hlaudi Motsoeneng review jumped the gun?

Questions have been raised about why the SABC board didn't consider Thuli Madonsela’s findings.

SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s supporters outside court on 18 September 2015. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) is strongly suggesting that Hlaudi Motsoeneng's review is first heard in a high court before an appeal goes ahead.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)'s Chief Operations Officer is fighting his suspension despite serious findings by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Last year, a high court judge ordered the SABC board to serve Motsoeneng with charges and institute disciplinary action over his alleged abuse of power, lies about his qualifications and a purge of staff members.

The five judges believe that the second part of the COO's case relating to disciplinary action should be heard before he appeals the ruling that he be suspended.

Counsel for the public broadcaster , the Communications Department and now Motsoeneng himself are being heard today.

Questions have been raised about why the SABC board didn't consider the Public Protector's findings and instead appointed Motsoeneng on a permanent basis.

The court will also provide clarity on Madonsela's powers, which could have an impact on other matters such as the report into the president's Nkandla homestead.

SUGGESTIONS TO WAIT FOR DISCIPLINARY HEARING

The Supreme Court of Appeal judges and counsel for Motsoeneng says they are hoping to reach an agreement to best suit all parties.

While part B of the SABC COO's court case regarding his permanent appointment is to be heard next month, there's been a suggestion to leave this matter while a disciplinary inquiry takes place.

Judge Mahomed Navsa says this will be in the best interest of all parties concerned.

"There is a month to go before then so if you go down that route it's just a month. The Public Protector wanted the disciplinary hearing so let's go through it, that's what she wanted and that is what we will apply."

Motsoeneng is fighting his suspension, but a disciplinary process may clarify this issue and may deem it not necessary to argue his permanent appointment in court next month.

It's unclear if this court will make a decision on the way forward today.

In July, the Public Protector said she is eagerly anticipating the SCA judgment on whether the people she makes findings against are obliged to implement her recommendations.

Madonsela argued that no one would question the recommendations of the Auditor General, so she doesn't understand why her findings are being second guessed.

Last year, she said the SABC board should take corrective action against Motsoeneng following her probe into a raft of damning allegations including abuse of power, that he purged staff at the broadcaster and gave himself massive pay hikes.

Madonsela also said he was dishonest about having a matric qualification.

In response to her findings, the board appointed a law firm to investigate the issues, and that firm cleared Motsoeneng of any wrongdoing.

His appointment as COO was made permanent soon after.