The SABC has been making some serious waves as of late, having been brought before various courts and tribunals such as the Constitutional Court and ICASA due to their decision on 26 May 2016 to, with immediate effect, cease to broadcast any material showing the destruction of property during violent protests.
The decision is currently the subject of a Constitutional Court matter on freedom of speech and has seen much media attention, particularly with regard to the dismissal of 8 SABC employees who objected to the decision and who communicated their disagreement thereto.
The 8 were suspended and dismissed for various differing instances, which is not required to be discussed in full detail here, but all relating to the same offence i.e. disagreeing with the decision of the SABC.
The Labour Court found that the dismissal of the 8 employees from the SABC was invalid and that they should be reinstated, stating that the request / instruction to comply with a policy which breaches freedom of speech, and which may be declared unconstitutional, is neither reasonable nor lawful and as such there was no reason to dismiss the employees in question. Furthermore the dismissal related to an infringement of the employees freedom of speech which is a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution of South Africa. The Labour Court ruled as follows:
- The Dismissals of the Second to Fifth applicants is unlawful and declared void ab initio.
- The Second to Fifth employees are to return to the SABC and continue with their duties as listed in their job descriptions, undeterred.
- The SABC is interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary hearings of the Second to Fifth Applicants initiated prior to their dismissal.
- Within 5 days of the order, the General Manager: Radio News and Current Affairs as well as the group executive, should file affidavits as to why they should not in their personal capacity be held responsible for the costs of the Application on an attorney and own client scale.
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