Hawks investigate SABC’s failure to comply with Icasa order

It’s unclear how long the Hawks probe into the SABC’s failure to comply with its order to revoke its decision not to air footage of violent protests will take.

FILE: SABC headquarters in Johannesburg. Picture: AFP.

PARLIAMENT – The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) says it’s unclear how long the Hawks investigation into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s failure to comply with its order, that it revoke its decision not to air footage of violent protests, will take.

The new policy was announced by controversial former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng in May last year, on the basis that it would encourage others to destroy property.

Acting on complaints, Icasa ordered two months later that the decision be withdrawn.

Icasa told Parliament’s communications portfolio committee that the public broadcaster failed to prove it had complied with the ruling, and that this is why Icasa laid criminal charges against the SABC in November.

If found guilty of failing to comply with the regulator’s ruling, the SABC could face a fine of up to R1 million.

Icasa councillor Nomvuyiso Batyi says the SABC has claimed it never implemented the ban on airing visuals of the destruction of property during protests.

“What surprised the authority is that this was never brought before Icasa’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (‘Triple C’) as a defence because you have to defend yourself before the ‘Triple C’.”

Batyi told MPs that the SABC has complied with Icasa rulings on other complaints against the SABC lodged during last year’s local government elections campaign.

She says they’re waiting for a case number from the Hawks.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)