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SABC top brass set to testify at state capture inquiry

Current board chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, chief executive Madoda Mxakwe, and head of news Phathiswa Magopeni have been called to testify at the state capture commission of inquiry.

The SABC at a briefing on 5 August 2019 outlining the findings of a report into editorial interference at the public broadcaster. (From L -R) SABC group executive: news and current affairs Phathiswa Magopeni, Dr Joe Thloloe, SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini, and SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN

PRETORIA - A month after an investigation found serious editorial interference at the SABC, the public broadcaster’s board chair, chief executive and head of news are expected to testify at the state capture commission of inquiry.

The investigation led by veteran journalist Joe Thloloe was established in May last year and tasked with probing the conduct of certain employees between 2012 and 2018.

The commission is also likely to hear evidence about the controversial New Age business breakfasts which cost the SABC but allowed the Guptas to generate profit.

The SABC’s role as public broadcaster and its ability to reach about 90% of the population has made it a prime target for politicians to control and has been ground zero in the fight for editorial independence and against political meddling.

The commission, led by Thloloe, found the broadcaster suffered from the capricious use of authority and power to terrorise staff and deflect the corporation from its mandate and editorial policies.

While it found no evidence of direct interference from Luthuli House, the specter of the African National Congress (ANC) hovered over the newsroom with the likes of former Communications Minister Faith Muthambi issuing instructions to newsrooms.

Current board chairperson, Bongumusa Makhathini, chief executive Madoda Mxakwe, and head of news Phathiswa Magopeni have been called to testify at the state capture commission of inquiry.

Proceedings are, however, going to start with former prosecutions boss Mxolisi Nxasana to conclude his evidence.

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