SEVEN fired South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists have approached the Constitutional Court to declare their axing “unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid”.
They are joined by an eighth, suspended SABC staffer Vuyo Mvoko, who had not been informed by Tuesday whether his contract had been cancelled.
The so-called SABC 8 brought their urgent application on Friday, before their dismissal.
Norton Rose Fulbright, acting on behalf of the group, has now served a supplementary affidavit.
In it, the law firm says that, prior to termination notices been delivered, the SABC 8’s attorneys “drew the attention of the SABC to the fact that any attempt to proceed with the disciplinary proceedings against them in the face of the Constitutional Court application would be unlawful and amount to constructive contempt of court”. The firm was commenting in a statement on behalf of the journalists.
It said the SABC 8 believed that:
• The SABC was under a duty not to impede or frustrate their ability to obtain effective relief from the Constitutional Court;
• The SABC failed to comply with its obligations to respect, promote and fulfil their constitutional rights of access to courts and effective remedies set out in sections 34 and 38 of the Constitution;
• The SABC failed to comply with the duty imposed on it in terms of section 165(4) of the Constitution to assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts;
• The SABC had shown no respect for the Constitutional Court, and the dismissals appeared calculated to frustrate and impede the ability of the SABC 8 to obtain relief from the Constitutional Court;
• The dismissals demonstrated that the previous public threat by chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng to engage in “Operation Clean-Up” was not an idle one, and that the SABC appears intent on removing from its news room any journalist who dares to disagree with management;
• Unless the Constitutional Court intervenes, they fear there will be an end to any meaningful dissent at the SABC, no matter how important the issue; and
• The SABC officials involved in the decisions to dismiss should be ordered personally to pay the costs on a punitive scale.
The SABC faces a number of court challenges relating to its editorial decision in the Labour Court, Constitutional Court and the High Court in Pretoria.
Despite this, in the past two days it sacked Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Jacques Steenkamp, Krivani Pillay, Busisiwe Ntuli, Thandeka Gqubule and Lukhanyo Calata.