Monday, July 14, 2008

Suspended SABC chief’s judgment on Monday

Judgment will be given on Monday in the continuing dispute between suspended SABC group CE Dali Mpofu and the public broadcaster. by Jocelyn Newmarch

The case has dragged on for three days, despite being lodged as an urgent matter, which usually carries the expectation of a speedy decision.

Even Judge Antonie Gildenhuys remarked yesterday that it was unusual for an urgent court application to take so long to be heard.

According to Mpofu, he and the other two executive directors were unfairly excluded from the SABC board meetings of June 2 and 11 this year, where his latest suspension was discussed.

This robbed him of his right to participate in the meeting and have a fair hearing.

Yesterday, lawyers for both sides responded to arguments made the previous day.

Mpofu’s lawyers have asked the judge to find that the board meetings where Mpofu’s latest suspension were discussed were irregular, and that the resolutions taken there are null and void.

But the SABC’s lawyers have argued that the Labour Court is the proper place to hear the matter, and that the high c ourt should exercise jurisdiction only once the Labour Court has heard the application.

Alternatively, they argue that the executive directors voluntarily recused themselves and that they were right to do so.

In reply, advocate Vincent Maleka said that his client, Mpofu, had asked him to find the resolutions invalid, rather than the fact of his suspension.

“Mr Mpofu does not complain about unfair labour practice,” he said.

“I thought that is what he is complaining about,” said the judge. “Mr Mpofu is here to have his suspension set aside... That’s the purpose of why we’re here,” he said.

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