The SABC has flip-flopped on its court application and its demand for R530 000 from sports
presenter and businessman Owen Ndlovu for unpaid studio rental.
As a result of its decision, the public broadcaster’s application stands to be kicked out of the high court and is to be heard at the local magistrate’s court because the high court does not entertain matters with amounts under R500 000.
This comes after the SABC, which was initially demanding R540 000 from Michael Owen Productions, a company owned by Ndlovu, revised its court papers last week indicating that it had miscalculated the amount owed to it by Ndlovu’s company.
In its amended papers seen by Sunday World, the SABC has made an about-turn, indicating that Ndlovu actually owed it an amount of R280 000, not the R540 000 it had initially cited in its first court application.
Sunday World reported early this year that Ndlovu was accused of not paying rent for almost a year by the SABC in its application, and he hit back, accusing the SABC of owing him R2.2-million in unpaid invoices.
Ndlovu had said the public broadcaster had withheld an amount of R250 000 he had paid to it for planned advertising that never happened, and a further R2.2-million in unpaid invoices for advertising jingles and promos that the broadcaster had run on all its radio stations.
In support of its application the SABC argued that Ndlovu had not paid rent for a year.
But Ndlovu had hit back indicating that the SABC had not sent him monthly invoices to make payment towards the rent, and said he did not know how much he was to pay to the public broadcaster.
In addition, Ndlovu said he was shocked by the SABC’s approach to the matter, arguing that the state-owned broadcaster had failed send him a letter of demand before filing its legal suit against his company.
On November 2, the SABC made the U-turn, and through its lawyers, Cliffs Dekker Hofmyer, asked the Joburg High Court to delete some parts of its application and to revise the amount it was claiming against Ndlovu’s company.
“The plaintiff intends to amend its particulars of claims, dated 20 June 2020, as follows: by the deletion of the amount of R530 166.66 in paragraph 11 of the particulars of claims, and the replacement thereof with the amount of R280 169.66,” reads the notice.
The notice also shows that the SABC also asked the court to amend the annexures it had supplied in support of the application to also reflect the new amount.
Its amended statement of account showed that Ndlovu’s account was credited with R250 000, which the SABC now says it has debited from his account to pay half of the R530 000 bill.
But Ndlovu was not impressed with the SABC’s sudden U-turn, indicating that the broadcaster deliberately misled the high court.
“The question is why did they mislead the courts by saying I owed them R500 000? They had my money for three years illegally without generating interest… they have abused states facilities as well as the public funds going to the wrong courts deliberately,” said Ndlovu when asked about the notice.
He said he has engaged his lawyers to write a hard-hitting letter to the SABC over its flip-flopping, which he feels was deliberate, and insistence on the high court when the matter
belonged in the lower court.
Acting SABC spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo said: “The SABC can confirm that a notice to amend the amount owed was filed due to the fact that there is a certain amount which was paid. The SABC would not want to engage any further on this matter in the public domain as it is still before the courts.”