SABC8 paints grim picture

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Johannesburg, 28 June 2016 -An online petition, aimed at freeing SABC from censorship and political interference, has been started.

Johannesburg, 28 June 2016 -An online petition, aimed at freeing SABC from censorship and political interference, has been started.

CAPE TOWN - The SABC8 has painted a bleak picture of how their newsroom is run. 

The executive producer of current affairs shows at SAFM Krivani Pillay, and one of the editors at the broadcaster Thandeka Gqubule were giving their testimonies before Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Communication on Monday.

One of them told the committee that former SABC Group CEO, Jimi Matthews, endorsed some of Hlaudi Motsoeneng's rogue decisions.

“What really surprised us was the response we got from Mr Jimi Matthews. He said it's cold outside, if you do not like it you can go. You've got two choices: the door, or the window,” Pillay was referring to her reaction to a directive not to cover protests.

Matthews subsequently resigned saying the corrosive atmosphere in the organisation had affected his judgment.

Pillay and Gqubule were part of a group of eight journalists who were suspended for questioning the SABC's editorial policy on protests. They raised their concerns with Hlaudi Motsoeneng on the public broadcaster's editorial policies and were subsequently suspended.

“We felt that the newsroom had become a source of derision, despair and criticism from the people we are fundamentally accountable to, and that is the South African public. I f we did not stand up, the cost of not defending an independent broadcaster would be insurmountable," Pillay continued.

Before the two testified, the SABC's former group executive for technology Sipho Masinga, told the committee that Nazeem Howa the then chief executive officer of the holding company for the Gupta  family businesses Oakbay Investments, approached them to take over the public broadcaster's 24-hour news channel.