Recently axed SABC Head of News set to legally challenge her dismissal

Phathiswa Magopeni
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The recently axed Head of News at the SABC, Phathiswa Magopeni, has reportedly expressed her intention to legally challenge her dismissal.

She was found guilty late last year of misconduct for failing to ensure that a court order was complied with. This related to the broadcast, airing and publication of an interdicted story.

SABC dismisses GE of News and Current Affairs Phathiswa Magopeni:

In a statement, the SABC says that the relationship of trust between it and Magopeni has broken down – claiming that Magopeni failed to submit mitigating factors following the disciplinary hearing.

The SABC says the decision to dismiss its News Chief was procedurally fair.

The SABC’s spokesperson is Gugu Ntuli says, “The proceedings were initiated and of course, with and disciplinary process there has got to be a hearing and this was all an internal process however there was a request to have the hearing public and so the SABC adhered to that and it was chaired by advocate Cassim and after having heard all the information provided and having heard also from the GE herself he found her guilty of misconduct for failing to take the appropriate measures and measures to prevent the court order being complied with.


In a related video below the SABC confirms firing Magopeni:

The South African National Editors Forum chairperson Sbu’ Ngalwa says, “I guess that the rules of natural justice have to prevail in this matter. I think that the comments and the arguments that Magopeni makes are valid in the sense that you had a disciplinary hearing that sat and concluded and then you had the SABC asking her to give mitigating actors on a potential sanction. Anyone would understand that whether it is a court case or a disciplinary case, perhaps that is a step that should have been taken before a final ruling was made. I guess if she is challenging it legally, it would assist us to understand whether the disciplinary code of the SABC was followed, and if not, what her recourse would be?”

Du Buisson has also expressed shock at the decision: 

Concerns over SABC News’ independence following Magopeni’s axing

The Head of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird says allegations of political interference at the SABC need to be taken seriously and must be properly investigated. Bird was commenting on the SABC’s decision to fire Head of News Phathiswa Magopeni with immediate effect – citing a breakdown of trust.

Bird says it is important that Magopeni’s point of view is also heard.

“It is a very sad that for the SABC and for South Africa. There are certain people that will obviously be rejoicing at the turn of events. I think that is really sad precisely because thanks to Phathiswa, the senior executive team and the Board have been able to restore the credibility and independence of the SABC over the last several years. If you look at where it was in 2016, Phathiswa came in and she has been able to do an incredible job.”

Bird says the SABC has always been subjected to political interference: 

The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) has also expressed concern over the SABC’s.

Executive Director Anton Harber says, “I think that in context this is a very concerning development. The context is that the SABC has in the past few years stabilised itself and asserted its independence and under Magopeni re-established the credibility and trustworthiness of its news product. And this also comes shortly after she comes under personal attack from key ANC leaders and she has herself complained of editorial interference by the people who are firing her. So, in that context, it is a very concerning moment for SABC News.