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'Motsoeneng must be suspended during any disciplinary process'

The DA says if the SABC COO isn't suspended during the inquiry, it will compromise the process.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and SABC Chief Operations Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Legal counsel for the Democratic Alliance (DA) says if Hlaudi Motsoeneng is not suspended during a disciplinary inquiry, it will compromise the process.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Chief Operations Officer is appealing a High Court ruling that he be suspended following serious findings by the Public Protector.

However, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) wants the matter to be dealt with in the lower courts first.

The Supreme Court of Appeal judges have suggested that either Motsoeneng goes through a disciplinary process or part B of his case in the High Court is concluded before they deal with the matter.

Most parties agree, including the SABC's COO himself, but the DA is adamant that he needs to be suspended pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.

At the same time, the Public Protector's powers have been questioned, with her legal counsel arguing that her findings have a legal basis unless set aside.

But the court is not likely to deal with this matter until Motsoeneng's possible suspension and his permanent appointment have been dealt with.

Judgement in the matter has been reserved.

Meanwhile the public protector's legal counsel have argued that her findings have a legal effect unless set aside.

The SABC board failed to take action against Motsoeneng despite the findings that he abused his power, lied about his qualifications and purged staff.

MADONSELA CALLS FOR HER DEPARTMENT TO BE DEFENDED

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says her office must be defended when its powers are undermined or whittled down.

Madonsela is one of the respondents in Motsoeneng's SCA case.

The DA took the SABC board to court for failing to take action against Motsoeneng for lying about having a matric qualification, abuse of power and improper conduct.

At the heart of this legal battle is whether the findings and remedial action of the Public Protector are binding and enforceable.

High Court judge Ashton Schippers last year ruled they were not.

But the SCA is expected to provide clarity on this burning issue.

Madonsela, who is in Bloemfontein for the hearing, said the vision of the architects of the country's democracy, in establishing her office and empowering it to investigate alleged improper conduct and take appropriate remedial action, also needed to be defended.

Her lawyers have argued in court papers that the communications minister and SABC disregarded her findings, instead of challenging it through a judicial review.

They argued this was not consistent with the concept of constitutionalism.

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