Motsoeneng claims he had nothing to do with SABC 8 dismissals

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng told the state capture commission of inquiry that he did not play any part in the decision to suspend or dismiss the so-called SABC 8 in 2016 when they spoke out against what they called "censorship" under his leadership.

The SABC 8 was the name given to a group of eight journalists who spoke out against a ban against protest footage.

Motsoeneng denied that it was a ban.

Testifying for a second day before inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Motsoeneng claimed the dismissals happened after the journalised leaked information and communicated with other media houses.

"It was not the visuals (protest coverage visuals). It has nothing to do with the visuals…I was not involved in the matter. I can't take the matter further than what I am saying. I was not involved," he said.

"If people differ with you, there can't be any consequences. I mean, it is normal that people differ with you. You should allow people [to] differ with you. It doesn't mean that when people differ with you, you can chase them away," he said.

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He also told Zondo that when Vuyo Mvoko was supposed to be dismissed, journalists Sophie Mokoena and Nothando Maseko "rushed to me to say: 'Chief, we hear that you're saying this person must be dismissed,' and I said: 'No, I don't know.'"

Motsoeneng also testified about the SABC's decision to ban protest coverage. He said it was not a policy but a decision that the SABC had taken.

"We didn't want to show people burning buildings. The intention of that was that people should be responsible when they report about such issues, chairperson. You know, people, they were having different views, especially media in general," he said.

"I was saying don't show the physicality. Which means if someone comes and burns a building don't show the room where people are burning.

"We were not banning anything. We were saying let us be responsible…it is not really banning."

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Motsoeneng told the commission that he took the decision that the public broadcaster should not show visuals of violent protests.  

"I took that decision and I stand by the decision. Wrong or right, you will have your own findings. I take ownership, chairperson, on what I did," he testified.  

Motsoeneng also admitted to the commission that he told two of the so-called SABC 8 journalists, Krivan Pillay and Foeta Krige, that he would clean up the organisation and that everyone should adhere to the policy of the SABC or find other jobs.  

Motsoeneng is expected to return to the commission on Thursday at 10:00.