SABC gives 4 out of 8 suspended journalists marching orders

The group were recently suspended for speaking out about controversial editorial policies.

FILE: The three suspended SABC journalists - from left Foeta Krige, Thandeka Gqubule & Suna Venter. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Four of the eight journalists who are taking the South African Broadcasting Corporation(SABC) to the Constitutional Court, have been dismissed from the public broadcaster.

The group were recently suspended for speaking out about recent controversial editorial policies at the corporation.

Earlier this month, the Independent Communications Authority of South African (Icasa) ordered the SABC to reverse its decision to ban footage of destructive protests.

Termination letters were today handed to Krivani Pillay, Jacques Steenkamp, Foeta Krige and Suna Venter.

Solidarity's Anton van der Bijl has been representing the four in the Labour Court.

"Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay have been dismissed. We did not receive a reason for that dismissal; the only reason given was that they did not respond to certain calls from the SABC, to provide reasons why they should not be dismissed."

The SABC says it won't be commenting publicly on the dismissals.

Media freedom organisations say the dismissal of four SABC journalists, who spoke out against the broadcaster's recent editorial policy changes, is an indication of growing censorship which was last seen during apartheid.

The four journalists have been vocal about the broadcaster's new editorial policy that bans the airing of visuals of violent protests.

They also described the low morale in the newsrooms.

The four were due to appear before the Labour Court this Thursday and have been told their suspensions are because they did not justify to their bosses why they should not be fired.

Earlier this month, Icasa ruled against the SABC's decision and giving it seven days to respond in writing about the reversal of its policy.

Media Monitoring Africa's William Bird says every citizen in the country should be worried about the state of the national broadcaster.

"I think it shows, not only a clear disregard for basic due process, human decency, workers' rights and logic, but it also shows tendencies of a kind that we really have not seen since apartheid. These are the kind of things that should scare everyone in South Africa."

The Right2Know Campaign's Micah Reddy says, "It's quite staggering that Hlaudi Motsoeneng can continue to rule like the tin-pot dictator he is, despite the massive public backlash and despite the scathing criticism that we have seen even from the ANC - his political masters. Things have got completely out of hand."