SABC board labelled as ‘non-functional, non-existent’

Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai says the SABC board has disintegrated and crumbled to a point where it's no longer existent.

FILE: The SABC offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Tshepo Lesole/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Western Cape High Court judge has described the SABC board as non-functional and non-existent.

The High Court is hearing an application by SABC board chair Mbulaheni Maguvhe to interdict a parliamentary inquiry into the board’s fitness to hold office.

Maguvhe, the only remaining non-executive board member, wants the court to set aside a subpoena to appear before an ad-hoc committee.

Judge Siraj Desai says the SABC board has disintegrated and crumbled to a point where it's no longer existent.

He’s told Maguvhe’s lawyer that as a public figure, the board chairperson should be open to criticism.

But Thabani Masuku for Maguvhe has argued that the ad-hoc committee would have been biased against his client because there appears to be a pre-judged outcome.

He says some committee members have already publicly expressed a view that the public broadcaster’s board is dysfunctional and that it should be dissolved.

Masuku wants Parliament ensure those on the committee are impartial.

Lawyer for the SABC Ismail Jamie has told the court that the SABC's management wrote to the chairperson of the ad-hoc committee asking why it was excluded from the process.

Jamie says the executives want to participate to protect any confidential or sensitive information from being made public.

He adds Maguvhe is not entitled to documents that the ad-hoc committee would request.

Jamie has asked the court to grant a draft order that would allow the SABC to call and cross-examine inquiry witnesses.

Judge Desai has told Jamie the SABC is a public entity which belongs to South Africans and therefore should be transparent.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)