Judgment has been reserved in the urgent application of former SABC News anchor Palesa Chubisi, in the Labour Court in Johannesburg, where she’s challenging her dismissal.
Chubisi made an urgent application on Tuesday to have the termination of her contract declared void and invalid.
The SABC argues that Chubisi’s dismissal was based on the Public Protector’s report, as well as its own internal investigation which found she was among almost 30 employees who were appointed or promoted without due process by former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Palesa Chubisi was among 13 employees who were served with letters of dismissal last week.
Chubisi made an urgent application in the Labour Court challenging her dismissal. She argued through her lawyers that the SABC’s decision to dismiss her is unlawful.
Chubisi’s attorney Moeketsi Raselo says they want her to be reinstated with immediate effect.
“Just in brief, because the matter now is before court, but we came to court because our client’s employment contract … we have been told that it’s not being recognised. So, we have made a request to the court, to declare the conduct of the SABC unlawful. So, we’re just waiting for the outcome of the court. But in the main, we’re saying the conduct is unlawful, and it’s unconstitutional. Our client must go back to work. She hasn’t done anything wrong”.
The SABC countered by saying the matter is not urgent and should be dismissed with costs. It further says Chubisi could have approached the CCMA for recourse, instead of going to the Labour Court.
The Judge asked why the SABC opted for an outright dismissal, after it had informed Chubisi when she was invited to make representations that her previous position was still available. The employer now says that position is no longer available.
Chubisi’s lawyer accused the SABC of being heavy-handed, and says her client should have at least been given other options.
Judgment has been reserved.
The SABC faces further legal action over its restructuring plans, which include retrenching around 600 permanent staff and over 1000 freelancers. Trade union Bemawu has since instructed its lawyers to proceed with an urgent application in the Labour Court to force the SABC to return to the negotiating table, before it dismisses staff. The union believes there hasn’t been sufficient consultation on the restructuring plans and the SABC has declined the union’s request for further talks.
At the same time, the Communications Workers Union (CWU) has threatened strike action against the SABC‘s planned job cuts. Bemawu has also pledged to support that action.