Press statement: Chairperson of the SABC Board
| Thursday 8 December 2016 15:01
Johannesburg, Thursday 08 December 2016
1. Yesterday, 07 December 2016, my legal representatives, officials from the SABC and I walked out of the hearing of National Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Board Inquiry (“Committee”). The reason we walked out is that my legal representatives were denied an opportunity to address the committee on my behalf on my rights to a fair hearing taking into account that I am a visually impaired person. This was after the Chairperson; Mr Vincent Smith had said that he had received advice to the effect that he could allow the legal team to address the committee for a few minutes.
2. I also wish to state that at the beginning of the hearing when members of the Committee discussed the fact that I have launched an appeal and its implication on the hearing, some members of the committee launched scathing attacks and insults at me. One member even said all what needed to be done is to demand that I address written representations to them on why I should not be dismissed as a member of the Board of the SABC.
3. Witnesses have been called to testify before the Ad Hoc Committee but yet their statements have not been provided to me or to my legal representatives. Where information was provided, it was not a format that I could access to be able to peruse and give instructions to my legal representatives.
4. On 17 November 2016, the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Vincent Smith wrote me a letter inviting me as the Chairperson of the Board of the SABC to attend the hearing. In that letter, under the heading “Your Rights and Obligations” I was informed that the Board might call witnesses to present documentary evidence and oral evidence at the hearings. I was also informed that in the event that a witness implicates the Board, the Board would be given an opportunity to cross examine the witness. Furthermore, I was informed that should the committee be in possession of a statement by a witness, same would be furnished to the Board.
5. On 5 December 2016, my attorneys wrote a letter to the Chairperson and made him aware that we had not received any statement of any witness that would testify at the hearing. Again on 6 December 2016, my attorneys made the Chairperson aware that they still had not received any statement and also that any statement given, also needed to be provided in a way that would be accessible to me as I am a visually impaired person. The letter was not replied to. Neither was any statement provided to me or my attorneys.
6. In the afternoon of 6 December 2016, I listened to a related interview on SAFM, of the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee. To my surprise the Chairperson said I, as the Chairperson of the Board of the SABC, was free to attend the hearing from 7 December as an observer, but was not allowed to cross examine witnesses. This is an about turn from what the Ad Hoc Committee had undertaken in writing.
7. I need to draw the attention of the public to the fact that when the Ad Hoc committee was established I welcomed its establishment. I, however, drew the attention of the Chairperson to my concerns mainly regarding the composition of the committee and the fact that in my view members of the Portfolio Committee on Communication had already prejudged the matter. I referred to the following comments which various members had made which showed that they had made up their minds on the status of the SABC Board and that they had already decided that the Board is unfit to hold its office.
7.1. The Board is politically compromised.
7.2. The Board is not complying with its fiduciary duties.
7.3. The Board has failed the SABC.
7.4. The Board has poor leadership
7.5. The Board must acknowledge that it has failed in its duties and that it is not fit and proper to be a board leading the SABC.
7.6. There was political interference during the interviews of the members of the Board of the SABC,
7.7. You failed us.
7.8. The Board wants to protect Hlaudi.
7.9. The Board is arrogant.
7.10. There is a clique running the Board according to its own rules.
7.11. The Board misled Parliament, therefore it is not fit.
8. Instead of addressing my concerns, the next thing is that I was served with summons to appear and produce certain documents at the hearing of the matter. I then launched an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to ask the court to declare that the Ad Hoc Committee as presently constituted (with people who had prejudged me and the SABC Board) was not competent to conduct the hearings into the SABC Board fairly, independently and impartially. The application was heard by Judge Desai on Friday, 2 and dismissed with costs without any written judgment or reasons.
9. On 6 December 2016 I instructed my legal representatives to launch an application for leave to appeal and the application was duly launched. At the hearing of the matter the Chairperson of the Ad Hoc Committee informed the Committee that he had received legal advice to the effect that whilst there was no court order to prevent the hearing to continue, they were advised to suspend the hearing and instruct their lawyers to expedite the appeal.
10. I wish to make it clear that I am not against the Inquiry proceeding. I support it. But what I want to see is Parliament respecting my rights in a way the ensures that:-
10.1. I can access information in advance which will be used in the inquiry.
10.2. That the information provided is accessible to me.
10.3. And that I am respected by the members of the Committee.
10.4. My legal representatives be allowed to address the committee on my behalf.
11. In the above regard, I regard that hearing as a miscarriage of justice. For this reasons, I am taking legal advice on how I can vindicate my rights and the rights of the Board of the SABC.
Issued by: Group Communications on behalf of the SABC Board Chairperson
Media Enquiries: Mr Kaizer Kganyago (SABC Spokesperson) | Cell: 082 306 8888