Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng on Thursday said he stood by a statement he made at a media briefing in April 2017 which ultimately led to his dismissal.
Motsoeneng also maintained that the board of the public broadcaster did not have the authority to institute disciplinary proceedings against him. Only then Acting Group CEO James Aguma had the power to do so.
Motsoeneng was at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on Thursday‚ challenging his dismissal from the SABC.
He was dismissed in June 2017 after being found guilty of bringing the broadcaster into disrepute following the media conference he called earlier on April 19.
During cross-examination by the SABC‚ he told the commission that the board delegated its powers to discipline managers to the group CEO.
He said this meant the disciplinary hearing of a COO would be handled by the employee’s line manager‚ in this case the CEO.
When asked whether he agreed with a statement by the disciplinary committee chair‚ advocate Nazeer Cassim SC‚ that the media briefing was designed to boost his ego‚ Motsoeneng disagreed‚ and said that was Cassim’s opinion.
“I stand by my statement. I want to repeat: There is one Hlaudi in South Africa. I am unique. There cannot be another one. There is nothing wrong about that statement‚” Motsoeneng said.
Motsoeneng said there was nothing wrong with what he had said at the briefing‚ which he said had been organised by the “Friends of Hlaudi”‚ as he was responding to allegations made against him by an ad hoc committee looking into the affairs if the SABC.
“The SABC should be very ashamed to bring these charges …. That is my character. There is no ego there. Ego for what‚” asked Motsoeneng.
He said he had been responding to malicious allegations levelled against him.
Motsoeneng said that Aguma had given him permission to hold the media briefing to deal with governance at the SABC.
But he was referred to a provision in the SABC disciplinary code‚ which said notwithstanding the delegation of its powers‚ the board did not lose its powers that had been delegated.
Motsoeneng disagreed with this assertion.
“My line manager‚ Mr Aguma gave me permission to address the press‚” he said.
SABC lawyer Paul Myburgh said Aguma was a person who had shown blind commitment to Motsoeneng‚ as the High Court in Cape Town had found in a 2016 judgment setting aside Motsoeneng’s disciplinary hearing in 2015.
Motsoeneng said that question was irrelevant to the dismissal issue he was facing.
When asked if the fact that the board had resolved to initiate disciplinary action against him did not impair his opportunity to state his case‚ Motsoeneng said the board did not have authority to do what they did.
“It is unfair. It is unlawful.”
When informed that he had elected not to give oral evidence at his disciplinary hearing‚ Motsoeneng explained he was in hospital and accused the SABC of doing everything in a hurry‚ “knowing I was in hospital”.
“I was forced to put an affidavit. l was not fit after the operation.”
The hearing continues.