In the wake of the storm threatening to tear the state broadcaster apart, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has brought more charges against three of its eight suspended journalists.
The trade union Solidarity said on Monday that SABC sent a letter to Foeta Krige, the executive editor of Monitor and Spektrum‚ journalist Suna Venter and business editor Thandeka Gqubule.
The trio were accused of “further misconduct” because they informed the media of their suspensions and other issues, Solidarity CE Dirk Hermann said.
Hermann said this latest “attack” on already suspended journalists was an unacceptable abuse of human rights.
“We are urgently appealing to all South Africans to stand firmly behind the suspended journalists to stamp out the SABC’s attack on press freedom‚” Hermann said.
The employees were suspended last month as part of disciplinary action for distancing themselves from an instruction by management not to cover protests by the Right2Know campaign.
The instruction was given after the public broadcaster decided not to cover violent protests where public property was being destroyed.
Lobby groups lodged a complaint against the SABC with the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa). On Monday, Icasa ordered that the SABC withdraw its censorship or face disciplinary actions.
The hearing for the suspended journalists was due to start on Monday but was postponed by the public broadcaster.
Five other employees are also facing disciplinary actions form the broadcaster.
Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay were suspended after sending a letter to SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng‚ objecting to the SABC’s editorial decision.
Lukhanyo Calata on the other hand received charges after writing a similar letter with regards to the resignation of acting CEO Jimi Matthews‚ and Vuyo Mvoko.
Solidarity would approach the Labour Court this week to obtain a court injunction against SABC’s disciplinary process as well as approach the Constitutional Court for direct access to test the constitutionality of the censorship decision made by the public broadcaster.
Meanwhile, SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng has refused to heed ICASA’s order to drop its ban on covering violent protests. He said the broadcaster’s policy will not be influenced by anyone.