‘SABC violating the entire vision of democracy’

Journalism & media studies academics have condemned the 'arbitrary suspension & firing' of SABC journalists.

FILE: A picture taken on 20 October, 2010 shows the SABC headquarters in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - More than 70 journalism and media studies academics have condemned what they describe as the "arbitrary suspension and firing" of senior South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists.

Seven journalists were fired and another's contract terminated after they spoke out about censorship and queried the public broadcaster's editorial policy following several turbulent weeks at the public broadcaster.

Management accused them of undermining authority and dismissed them without a hearing.

The journalists are now challenging their dismissals in the Labour Court.

Some of the leading minds in media studies and journalism have issued a statement in support of the SABC staffers who've been axed.

They say the SABC has turned into a place where those who try to maintain a sense of ethics and professionalism are harassed, suspended and dismissed.

University of Cape Town's Professor Herman Wasserman says the journalists must be reinstated.

"It's a crisis when a few weeks ahead of an important election, the public cannot trust the public broadcaster to bring it impartial information."

The SABC is not only flouting the law, say the academics, but is violating the entire vision of democracy and constitutionalism which brought the broadcaster into being.