Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

SHOULD Hlaudi Motsoeneng he pay back the money? To be more specific‚ the millions of rand he has earned as a top executive at the SABC.

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed his bid to appeal a ruling by the High Court in Cape Town‚ which found his appointment as chief operating officer to have been irrational, and be set it aside.

The ruling brings the now "ordinary" SABC employee’s R3.7m a year salary sharply into focus.

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Advocate Paul Hoffman‚ director and head of projects at the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa‚ said Motsoeneng was liable to pay back all the money he acquired from the SABC since his initial appointment in 2011 in the role of chief operating officer.

"The effects of the invalidity goes back to the date that the decision was made‚" he said.

"So you would have to go back to square one and scrape back from him the money that has irregularly been paid to him‚ because he ought not to have had that appointment‚" said Hoffman.

However‚ executive board member at Corruption Watch‚ David Lewis, said he would not argue that Motsoeneng was liable to pay back the money he had earned.

"I have not read it that way. I just think it means that the he is not entitled to serve in that position‚" Lewis said.

Hoffman argued that the ruling stating that Motsoeneng’s appointment was irrational would further imply that any "decisions taken by him in the course of his appointment" would also be deemed "invalid."

The controversial former chief operating officer recently backed a ban on the screening of violent protests and introduced a 90% local content quota.

"So if his appointment is invalid‚ then decisions taken by him in the course of his appointment, like increases in salaries for his friends‚ don’t cover the protest actions; those are all invalid‚" Hoffman said.

The advocate said this would then open up the channels for a public interest litigant to query the misuse of "public money".

"The money that has been paid to him has been paid out of the SABC’s pocket, and if the SABC doesn’t do anything about recovering the money, then it is open to a public-interest litigant to say, ‘excuse me‚ that was public money that that happened to and I want an order directing the SABC to rake back the money’‚" Hoffman said.

Hoffman added that to reappoint Motsoeneng as chief operating officer of the SABC would be contempt of court on the part of the public broadcaster.

Asked whether Motsoeneng would still be earning his R3.7m a year salary as a "normal" employee‚ SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said: "I have spoken to the board and until they come back to me‚ I am not going to talk about this thing. I don’t want to be answering any questions at this time until I get feedback from the board."

TMG Digital