Former journalists at the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have approached the constitutional court to intervene in their dismissal by the corporation.
The eight journalists who were fired on Monday and Tuesday July 18 and 19, had earlier approached the court on Friday to have the SABC’s conduct and the charges against them declared “unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid”
The broadcaster got the eight journalists for disagreeing with a decision to censor coverage of protests, and eventually fired them before the disciplinary cases against some of them had been concluded.
In an updated court papers filed on Wednesday, the journalists claimed that the broadcaster has engaged in conduct which breaches the Constitution and amounts to contempt of court.
The eight also claimed the SABC is an organ of state and therefore was under special obligation to “respect, promote, protect and fulfill” the rights of access to court, and to effective relief.
“Once litigation is launched, all litigants are under a duty not to impede or frustrate the ability of opposing parties to obtain effective relief. This is so in terms of common law.”
“The SABC has violated all of these duties in this matter. It was faced with an application to the highest court in the country, seeking to declare unconstitutional and invalid its decision to embark on disciplinary proceedings against us.” the paper read.
SAfm current affairs executive producer Krivani Pillay, RSG executive editor Foeta Krige, senior investigative journalist Jacques Steenkamp and senior journalist Suna Venter were among the eight who were fired with immediate effect by the broadcaster.
More to this, Trade union Solidarity has accused the SABC of further censorship following an application by the broadcaster to not have Labour Court proceedings involving staffers it has fired broadcast on Thursday.
The Solidarity deputy chief executive Johan Kruger said SABC’s censorship enforcement was “ironic” and must be addressed by the court
The union said that legal representatives of the applicants would bring a formal application to court so that the court session could be broadcast live.
“The outcome of this case is in the public interest and therefore we believe that the public has the right to be able to follow this case,” said Kruger.
Solidarity added that it will request that the decision to dismiss the journalists should be set aside and that the disciplinary process should be halted in its entirety.
The SABC has however, ignored the eight’s application and failed to reply saying the broadcaster has engaged in conduct giving rise to contempt of this court and only the court can appropriately deal with that matter.