HSF seeks urgent relief against the SABC and others
4 July 2016
On Friday, 1 July 2016, the Helen Suzman Foundation ('HSF') launched an urgent application against the SABC, its Board of Directors, the Chief Operating Officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and the Minister of Communications.
The HSF seeks wide-ranging relief. This includes relief, on an urgent basis, suspending the implementation of the SABC's policy and practice not to cover violent and other protests, as well as relief preventing the SABC from adopting or implementing any censorship policy which would be contrary to the mandate of the public broadcaster.
As the public broadcaster, the SABC is obliged to cover, comprehensively, events of national and public importance, including political protests and news which may portray the presidency or any political party in a negative light. It is impermissible for the SABC to distort or refuse to cover important news, as a result of political partisanship or otherwise. Very worryingly, it appears that this censorship is politically motivated.
The HSF seeks the above relief to operate on an urgent interim basis, pending the final determination either of review proceedings launched by the HSF (reviewing and setting aside the SABC's editorial policies as described above), or the final determination of proceedings against the SABC and Motsoeneng currently before ICASA (the public broadcaster's regulator and an institution created under Chapter 9 of the Constitution).
The HSF believes in an open and democratic society, which includes the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, a free press, and the ability, freely, to receive information. Censorship, by the public broadcaster no less, strikes at the very heart of these rights, and undermines and erodes our constitutional democracy.
Issued by Sandra Sowray on behalf of HSF, 4 July 2016