SABC agrees to release report regarding allegations by former GE of News against Board Chair

The SABC Board has acceded to a request by the SOS Coalition for access to the report on allegations by former Group Executive of News and Current Affairs Phathiswa Magopeni against Board Chair Bongumusa Makhathini.

The SOS Coalition argued the findings had been substantive and involved matters of public interest. The SABC says in a statement that the board has however redacted parts of the report and removed information deemed to be private and confidential. It has also been published on the SABC’s website.

The report was adopted in April. The key findings were published but the main report was deemed confidential, as it contained private and personal information of and about third parties.

The report found Magopeni’s allegations to be unsubstantiated and nothing to indicate that her editorial decisions were threatened, usurped, or compromised in any way, and that Makhathini’s actions did not constitute misconduct in terms of the Broadcasting Act.

The SABC says it applied its mind to the request, including the significant public interest in the matter, but needed to protect private, confidential and personal information at the same time.

Magopeni’s complaint

Magopeni had complained in a letter that she was being forced out of the public broadcaster after the Chairperson and the CEO had allegedly tried to force her to conduct an unscheduled interview with African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the local government elections last year.

The SABC also says the report of the Special Committee into allegations by the former Head of News has recommended that employees and board members be cautioned about sensitivities around editorial independence at the public broadcaster.

According to the report, Board members should be cautious when engaging with SABC News staff on editorial issues.

The broadcaster had fired Magopeni in late January citing a breakdown in the trust relationship.

She is challenging her dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

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