Monster R22m legal bill for SABC disciplinary hearings

The SABC has spent a staggering R22-million on disciplinary hearings against its employees.

Two internal reports authored by SABC’s legal services division show that R16-million went to one law firm, Werksmans Attorneys, while Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr (CDH) and Msikinya Attorneys, shared R2.4-million between themselves.

The reports show that Werksmans worked on cases involving top SABC executives, among them former COO Chris Maroleng, former group executive for commercial enterprises Tshifhiwa Mulaudzi, former SABC Foundation CEO Iris Cupido, former board secretary and head of governance and assurance Theresa Geldenhuys, former provincial head of news Charles Matlou, and acting head of legal Nompumelelo Phasha.

All these executives were fired by the public broadcaster after their disciplinary hearings. Other notable SABC managers who were fired included former group executive for sports
Sully Motsweni. Former acting CEO and group executive for TV Nomsa Philiso , who is now head of local content at MultiChoice’s Mzansi Magic channel, resigned from her position after she was hauled to two disciplinary hearings.

Among the charges brought against Philiso were dereliction of duty a nd contravention of the SABC’s supply chain management processes. The broadcaster spent close to R2-million on the two hearings. CDH and Msikinya Attorneys worked on disciplinary cases involving junior employees, the reports indicate.

According to one report, dated July 2020, the SABC spent an astonishing R1.5-million on Chris Maroleng’s disciplinary hearing and his subsequent court case, which is now unfolding in the labour court.

Maroleng was charged with three counts of misconduct including dereliction of fiduciary duties emanating from an improper reference letter he had given to the SA Rugby Union motivating for the appointment of former SABC employee Marcia Mahlalela.

Another charge, according to the legal report, related to Maroleng’s secondment and payment of an allowance to an employee working in his office named Carmen Schneider. The report also shows that the public broadcaster spent a whopping R2.8-million on Theresa Geldenhuys’s disciplinary hearing.

The disciplinary hearing of Tshifhiwa Mulaudzi, according to the same report, cost the SABC more than R500 000, and Ayanda Mkhize’s legal fees amounted to R1.1-million. Cupido’s case was an interesting one, with the former SABC Foundation CEO found guilty of awarding bursaries to Motsweni’s kids.

The report shows that Cupido pleaded guilty to some charges and bargained for a charge of bribery relating to R4 000 that she allegedly accepted in exchange for awarding the bursaries squashed.

SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo disputed that the broadcaster had preferred Werksmans over other law firms. About the legal expenditure, she said the legal costs in question were 0.4% of 0.5% of total revenue.


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