Motsoeneng fights SABC to retain bonus worth millions

Former SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has mounted a court battle in an attempt to prevent the public broadcaster from clawing back millions of rands relating to a success fee he was paid during his tenure.

The Johannesburg High Court ordered Motsoeneng, who is currently the leader of the African Content Movement, to return the money with interest in December 2021.

Motsoeneng was awarded the bonus for brokering a contract for two new channels with MultiChoice, which was unconstitutional.

He was asked to return the money following a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation in 2017.

Leave to appeal

Initially, he was denied leave to appeal by both the high court and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA); however, he was given another chance after successfully asking the SCA president to reconsider the case.

The matter was heard virtually by the Johannesburg High Court judges, J Mudau, J Malindi, and J Wilson.

Motsoeneng’s legal representative, Thabani Masuku, argued that his client did not ask for the success fee and that it was unfair that the SABC deprived him of his pension.

“What was the SABC doing when giving him the success fee? They had looked at the work that he was doing at the SABC, given their financial status,” argued Masuku.

“The actual money paid into Mr Motsoeneng’s account was R6-million, but the money sought by the SABC is R18-million.

“One must look at it and ask if it’s fair to ask a litigant to pay R18-million while he received R6-million.”

Irregular expenditure

Jabu Motepe, the senior counsel representing the SABC, said according to the broadcaster, the payment of music legends was an irregular expenditure; however, the SIU was already assigned a task to investigate the whole entity.

“Assuming that the SIU did not come to the SABC in 2017, if they knew that they had a forensic case, yes, they could have acted on the irregular expenditure, but the SIU came in 2017 and investigated. There were no allegations of fraud; we accept that,” said Motepe.

The presiding officers – Judge Gcina Malindi, Judge Thifhelimbilu Mudau, and Judge Stuart Wilson, questioned the counsel on the merits of their arguments.

The case was adjourned due to time.

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