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I found the SABC newsroom in total decay - head of news Magopeni

SABC head of news Phathiswa Magopeni took up the position in February 2018 and said there was a fundamental breakdown in trust.

SABC head of news and current affairs Pathiswa Magopeni. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s head of news Phathiswa Magopeni said when she was appointed, she found a newsroom in total decay, led by people whom the journalists did not trust.

The editor made the submission at the state capture commission of inquiry on Tuesday, which earlier heard how the public broadcaster was technically insolvent.

Magopeni took up the position in February 2018 having served as an editor at eNCA.

She was asked what she found in the SABC newsroom when she was appointed.

And she said: “I found decay, the newsroom was subdued and it was on autopilot even though there were managers in the system who were supposed to take responsibility in terms of giving directions.”

Magopeni said there was a fundamental breakdown in trust.

“You had people who were leading or were supposed to lead the newsroom who were not trusted by journalists within the newsroom. Those people had no legitimacy and they did not command any authority to be respected by the journalists within the newsroom, because they were associated with a period where things happened that were not supposed to be happening in a newsroom.”

She said the newsroom was also struggling with budget cuts and an inability to fill much-needed positions.