OUTA goes to court to increase SABC claim against Hlaudi
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has applied to the high court to intervene in the SABC’s case against Hlaudi Motsoeneng, by arguing that SABC should be claiming more money from Motsoeneng.
OUTA filed papers this week in the Johannesburg High Court, asking to be granted amicus curiae (friend of the court) status in the SABC board’s case against Motsoeneng, to strengthen attempts to seize his pension to compensate for his actions.
The existing case is a civil action brought in September last year by the SABC board against the SABC Pension Fund and Motsoeneng, in the Johannesburg High Court. In its case, based on the Public Protector’s findings four years ago, the Board claims that Motsoeneng’s pension should be seized to cover the money he owes to the broadcaster; this is an anti-dissipation interdict in terms of the Pension Funds Act.
The board wants to seize Motsoeneng’s pension to cover the money which the Public Protector found four years ago that he owes the broadcaster; this is an anti-dissipation interdict in terms of the Pension Funds Act.
The board is claiming R10.236 million, alternatively R11.509 million, from Motsoeneng.
OUTA’s papers support the Board’s claim but argue that it is inadequate and that further claims should be added.
As an amicus curiae, OUTA will be able to address the court about the amounts which Motsoeneng owes the SABC. OUTA’s interest is based on combatting corruption within state-owned entities.
The SABC board has indicated that it is not opposed to OUTA’s application.
Both the SABC’s claim and OUTA’s call for an expanded claim are based on the Public Protector’s February 2014 report, When Governance and Ethics Fail.
The Public Protector’s report found Motsoeneng guilty of misconduct and set out the amounts owing to the broadcaster. Motsoeneng’s misconduct included irregular appointments, irregularly increasing some employees’ salaries, and illegally suspending and firing some employees.
OUTA’s Head of Legal Affairs, Stefanie Fick, says in an affidavit supporting the application, that the Public Protector’s recommendations may not be ignored and that the SABC claim does not go far enough.
“These findings, decisions and remedial action have not… been fully taken into account by the SABC in its stated and computed claim against Mr Motsoeneng,” says Fick.
“According to the SABC, the fully computed claims against Motsoeneng arising from these unlawful actions amount to R10 235 453.20.” The SABC also has an alternative claim against him of R11 508 549.12, based on a “success fee” paid to Motsoeneng.
OUTA believes Motsoeneng should also repay his own illegitimate salary increases, his pay for posts he lied his way into by claiming false qualifications since 1995, irregular payments he authorised for others, all losses resulting from systemic corporate governance failures, and losses resulting from the purging of senior staff.
OUTA believes that “the claim of the SABC against Motsoeneng is of a significantly greater magnitude and is more extensive than that currently set out in the papers of the SABC” and that the SABC is legally obliged to accommodate this.
“Hlaudi Motsoeneng compromised the SABC in many ways. He made deals that cost the SABC millions of rand, like pocketing more than R10 million in success fees,” says Dominique Msibi, OUTA Portfolio Manager for Special Projects.
“He instituted the local content policy, costing the SABC millions in viewership. He made a deal with local musicians, paying them each a R50 000 ‘thank you’ to support this policy. He purged the SABC of intellectual capital, suspending and firing many highly experienced personnel.
“Motsoeneng was a wrecking ball that wreaked havoc at the public broadcaster. The negative repercussions of his tenure will be felt for years to come, as current and future leadership try to repair the damage he caused, both financially and reputationally.”
In December 2016, OUTA laid criminal charges of fraud, misrepresentation and racketeering against Motsoeneng and other SABC managers; further information was later added. This matter has not yet resulted in an arrest.
In November 2017, OUTA called for Motsoeneng and his former colleague Simon Tebele to be held personally responsible for paying the legal costs in the SABC’s failed case over the attempt to dismiss the SABC 8.
See OUTA’s application here.