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Hlaudi feels the heat – SABC considering criminal charges against the fired boss

Hlaudi Motsoeneng

The SABC’s interim board is on a mission to claw back millions of rands paid to disgraced former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

It is also thinking of laying criminal charges against the fired boss.

The board, appointed by President Jacob Zuma in March, plans to sue Motsoeneng for the return of a R11.4-million bonus he received in 2016. The bonus was linked to a deal that granted MultiChoice access to the public broadcaster’s archives – without the authorisation of the then SABC board.

The deal, worth R533-million, gave MultiChoice control of the SABC’s archives for five years.

Motsoeneng’s bonus on this deal was R33-million, to be paid out over three years. The R11.4-million was the first portion and was paid in August last year.

“We have handed over Mr Motsoeneng’s matter to the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] to fast-track [the investigation] so that we can [lay] criminal charges and … recover [money] if the end of the investigation is that there are recoveries to be made,” SABC interim chairman Khanyisile Kweyama told The Times.

Kweyama said the board was keen to wrap up the matter before its term expires in September.

Another employee privy to the SABC discussions said Motsoeneng would not be off the hook even if he paid back all of the bonus.

Hlaudi Motsoeneng

“Besides the R11.4-million bonus, he could also be asked to repay funds he made available to the ‘SABC Thank You’ concert held in Orlando, at which an impression was created that the artists were paying for the show,” said the source, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation.

“In fact, Motsoeneng arranged the payment from the SABC and he also – without approval from anyone – paid musicians R50,000 each, which amounted to about R9-million in total, from SABC funds.”

The concert was designed to applaud the public broadcaster’s 90% local-content policy, which was ordered by Motsoeneng.

“We are not going to wait for the SIU to finish their investigation. If there are allegations of fraud and corruption the SABC can directly open criminal charges because these payments were made without the board’s approval,” said the source.

The SABC board recently told parliament that the 90% local content policy had caused losses for the public broadcaster. Its flagship radio stations – Metro FM, 5FM, and Goodhope FM – and television channel SABC3 had suffered a decline in audiences and revenue.

Motsoeneng is said to own two freehold properties in Gauteng and Limpopo worth about R5-million each. If the SABC cannot recover the money directly from him, the board intends to attach these properties to settle the payment.

Motsoeneng was fired from the SABC on June 12 after being found guilty of misconduct for comments he made at a media briefing in which he criticised SABC board members and a parliamentary committee that was looking into alleged irregularities.

He was charged with contravening the terms of a suspension when he held the briefing. He had been suspended following findings of the public protector relating to him misrepresenting his qualifications.

He has since gone to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in an attempt to overturn his dismissal.

Asked for comment, Motsoeneng said: “I don’t want to get involved in those things, mshana. I am busy and I don’t want to talk about those issues.

“You must just wait and see. I don’t want to respond to the wind.

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