IN THE NEWS:  The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. The broadcaster is under attack from outside forces, says its chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
IN THE NEWS: The SABC’s Auckland Park headquarters. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

THE SABC on Wednesday backtracked on its decision to take on review the Independent Communications Authority’s (Icasa’s) order that it withdraw the decision to ban footage of violent protests where public property was being burnt.

The public broadcaster’s attorney, Titus Mchunu, said the SABC had had an opportunity to study the Icasa order, and he was instructed that his client would now abide by it.

This was confirmed by Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka.

"The SABC has informed Icasa that it will abide by the order of (Icasa’s) council with immediate effect," he said.

This was despite the SABC’s writing to Icasa on Tuesday, asking for an extension to the deadline to respond to the order.

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The SABC had been given seven calendar days to respond to Icasa, in writing, informing it of compliance with the order. That deadline was Tuesday.

The SABC claimed that the order was only forwarded to it on Monday, and before then it was not aware that the decision taken by Icasa’s complaints and compliance committee had been unanimously accepted by the Icasa council, as required by law.

"Under the circumstances, our instructions are to request Icasa to undertake that it will not enforce its order as yet but will allow the SABC a fair opportunity until Monday, July 25 2016 to consider the contents of the order and allow the chairperson of the SABC board to communicate formally to the council…," Mchunu had said in the letter behalf of the SABC.

"The SABC has only now been provided with the order of the council of Icasa."

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The SABC, however, capitulated in court earlier on Wednesday and agreed to withdraw its decision not to broadcast the footage.

There is, however, still part B of an application by the Helen Suzman Foundation, in which it wants the decision set aside as unlawful and unconstitutional.

It was not clear how this affected the seven of the eight suspended SABC employees, who were fired this week for questioning the editorial decision.

Four of the journalists — Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay — were expected to approach the Labour Court on Thursday in a bid to have their dismissals overturned.

They were informed on Monday that they had been fired. The remaining three — Busisiwe Ntuli, Thandeka Gqubule and Lukhanyo Calata — were axed on Tuesday.