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

JACQUES Steenkamp, one of the eight journalists who challenged their firings by the SABC, has been "released" by the public broadcaster with immediate effect more than a month before his resignation takes effect.

Steenkamp said he had resigned from the SABC and was supposed to work out his notice until November 4.

But he was notified on Wednesday that he would be released immediately but paid his salary until then.

"It was because of what happened in Parliament in August when they called us unethical and liars," Steenkamp said, explaining why he resigned.

"That just persuaded me that there was no point in staying on at the SABC while Hlaudi [Motsoeneng] is there."

Steenkamp said he believed the SABC released him immediately because of the Constitutional Court case brought by him and six other SABC journalists.

It was not clear what would happen to the other six journalists.

The journalists were fired and then reinstated after approaching the Labour Court, but decided to take their case to the Constitutional Court. They said nothing had changed at the SABC since their unlawful dismissal.

They have asked the highest court to declare that Parliament’s portfolio committee on communications and the National Assembly breached their obligation in terms of section 55(2) of the constitution.

The journalists maintain that, since their reinstatement and the SABC’s undertaking to comply with the Independent Communication Authority of SA’s order to reverse a ban on flighting footage of violent protests, the culture of censorship remains and fear in the newsroom persists.

In August, the portfolio committee shot down a proposal for an inquiry into the chaos at the public broadcaster after Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and senior SABC executives appeared in Parliament.