The SABC’s newly-elected News and Current Affairs Group Executive, Simon Tebele is the man behind the decision to fire eight journalists two weeks ago, the public broadcaster has revealed.

This was detailed in a written affidavit submitted last night to the Labour Court and Solidarity, as ordered a week ago, revealing who had fired Suna Venter, Foeta Krige, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp.

In its ruling in favour of four of the eight fired journalists, the court ordered the SABC to submit an affidavit naming the person/s behind the axings and stating why it shouldn’t be held liable for the case’s legal costs.

The deadline was midnight on Tuesday and according to Solidarity, the SABC just managed to submit minutes before the deadline struck.

“According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices, it is stated in the affidavits that Simon Tebele made the decision to dismiss the journalists but no clear explanation is given as to why the decision was made in the first place,” the trade union said.

“Instead of putting direct and pertinent evidence before court, the sworn affidavits only contain very vague assertions. The court’s order is clear: Reasons must be given as to why the decision to proceed with the dismissal of journalists in the face of pending litigation does not amount to reckless contempt of the court and its procedures,” Van der Bijl explained.

Solidarity added that the SABC’s former acting CEO, Jimmy Matthews, is furthermore proffered as scapegoat for the initial suspension of three of the journalists.

“It is regrettable that the individuals decided not to confide in the courts and the public by giving pertinent reasons for the decision to dismiss the journalists while an investigation was pending,” Van der Bijl said.

“Solidarity will continue with its application before the court to hold the responsible officials liable for every cent that was spent on an unnecessary court case,” he concluded.

[Source – Solidarity]