2001

2001

January 2001: Western Cape Premier, Gerald Morkel, writes to SABC CEO Peter Matlare to complain about biased coverage of local Regional Editor, Jeffrey Twala and about the embarrassment Twala had caused him in what he described in the letter as a breach of contract. Twala had asked Morkel to host delegates to an international broadcasting conference which was being organised and hosted by the SABC. Morkel had obtained the use of a local hotel which also agreed to pay all costs for a formal banquet in return for TV coverage for the event which Twala guaranteed but then reneged on his promise. Morkel asks Matlare if they could meet when Matlare was next in Cape Town. Matlare does not even acknowledge receipt of the letter, let alone respond to it.

19 March 2001: Zikalala visits Sea Point office in response to confidential report handed by Bemawu to Peter Matlare about the personal and professional abuses by Jeffrey Twala of staff. In an extraordinary act of betrayal, the report is given to Zikalala who, in turn, immediately gives it to Twala. The report includes reports from doctors and psychologists that testify to unprecedented levels of stress among staff, largely as a result of Twala deliberately exposing them to life-threatening situations for personal and political gain. They include a case of a cameraman who came close to throwing himself off Chapman’s Peak. Zikalala declares all of this to be “Normal, acceptable and not a crisis” and encourages Twala to continue with his persecution of staff with the words: “It’s business as usual in the Cape Town news office.” A witch hunt ensues that sees staff leaving the Sea Point office in unprecedented numbers.

5 June 2001: Jeffrey Twala verbally abuses the PRO of Red Cross Childrens Hospital, Diana Ross, in front of a large group of people including MECs who were there because the six-month-old conjoined twins Zinzi and Zanela Koma had been successfully separated. A BBC television team that does specialised coverage of complex operations for the benefit of other hospitals and surgeons throughout the world had given a small gratuity to Red Cross in thanks for their assistance in this coverage. Twala, seemingly incapable of comprehending what was involved, assumed this was a “bribe” and brought the SABC into disrepute with his appalling behaviour. Later, Ms Ross referred the BBC team to the SABC in Sea Point when they asked where they could access archive footage of the hospital. Twala phoned Ms Ross, who was at home, and demanded that she meet him. He then, bizarrely, threatened to lay charges against her for “copyright transgressions”. Nothing ever came of these threats but Ms Ross was traumatised by the experience which damaged the long-established, harmonious and mutually beneficial relation which had existed prior to Twala being appointed as Western Cape Regional Editor of the news office in Sea Point.

23 July 2001: SABC Pretoria bureau chief Kgomotso Sebetso, a married father of two children, is dismissed after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of persistently making unwanted sexual advances to a junior staffer. The disciplinary hearing found that Sebetso downloaded pornographic material from a company computer which he then emailed to Matau Mothoa, a newsreader and journalist.

31 July 2001: Zikalala writes an article in Business Day, “Making Patriotism a Virtue” in which he makes racist generalisations about whites in general and white journalists in particular:

“In SA, to be an objective black journalist you must be anti-government and hate the presidency. The white liberal media will defend and shower with praise any black journalist who passionately hates government. That is called freedom of expression. The majority of South Africans, especially blacks, are proud of their country. They are defending and promoting their country positively and will ensure that no one tampers with their constitutional rights. My white colleagues should do the same.”

He also calls for “a press corps that can work with government” and says that “Our newsrooms are full of young and talented cadres who still need to be nurtured.”

5 October 2001: The SABC confirms that it had hired, Thami Ntenteni the former aide to President Thabo Mbeki immediately after Ntenteni had been released from jail after serving three years of a five year sentence.

Only days after his release from prison on charges of culpable homicide and driving under the influence of liquor, Thami Ntenteni was appointed managing consultant for strategic initiatives at the SABC.

Ntenteni, a former spokesperson for President Thabo Mbeki, was sentenced to seven years in prison in the Randburg Magistrates Court on December 5, 1998. He effectively served five years of his prison term.

His sentence followed on a car accident in 1997 in which a woman died and three people were injured.

He was also found guilty on November 30, 1994 of driving under the influence of liquor.

Correctional Service Department spokesperson Russel Mamabolo on Friday confirmed that Ntenteni had been released from prison on September 3 this year.

On Friday the SABC confirmed that chief executive Peter Matlare had personally head-hunted Ntenteni for the job of management consultant on strategic initiatives for Channel Africa, the radio service that broadcasts to the rest of the continent. On the same day Matlare declared ‘talent will be best served at the SABC, the corporation said it would not have wasted time advertising Ntenteni’s position.

SABC’s acting corporate affairs head, Tango Lamani said: “When we heard this talent was on the market we had to move fast.”

According to the SABC’s employment policy, the corporation said, Matlare had the latitude to make strategic appointments to key positions. Ntenteni started his job effectively from mid-September, immediately after he served three years of a five-year sentence.

Former jailbird and ex-Mbeki aide Ntenteni lands top SABC job – City Press 7/10/2001

(Two and a half years later Ntenteni was accused by a 25-year-old woman, Yoliswa Matomela of Port Elizabeth of offering her employment in return for sex.

Ntenteni was one of several managers who were axed in February 2011:

A board member who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Sunday Independent that the SABC’s management structure had to be cut down to size because there were “too many managers” running the show

“There was a time when people were hired willy-nilly,” the board member said

Unions at the SABC welcomed the move to reduce the top structure of the organisation.

Communication Workers Union deputy secretary Thabo Mogalane said:

“The structure was bloated and full of unnecessary positions,” he said. - Sunday Independent

2 November 2001: “Mariniers van VSA oefen.” Die Burger. Visit by USS Gunston Hall and its crew which holds joint manoeuvres with the SA Navy at Veldrif. ETV leads with the story, Western cape Regional Editor, Jeffrey Twala, apparently under instructions from Zikalala who, in turn, is taking instructions from the ANC, vetoes the story as the government does not want to be seen as co-operating with the US armed forces.

4 November 2001: City Press reports that the new management team of the news division, Barney Mthombothi and Matatha Tsedu have sidelined Snuki Zikalala and Phil Molefe.CEO Peter Matlare and COO Solly Mokoetle were not available for comment.

Tongues are wagging in the corridors of the SABC's Auckland Park headquarters following the re-arrangement of key personnel appointments.

Hardly a couple of weeks following the unprecedented nudging to the sidelines of erstwhile head-of-news Phil Molefe and his deputy Snuki Zikalala, several of their subordinates feel they are being made redundant in the process.

Auckland Park insiders lament that the incoming news management team of Barney Mthombothi and Mathatha Tsedu has gone on a recruitment drive, bringing in former e.TV journalists Donald Chauke and Guy Oliver, who are said to be getting most of the high-profile assignments, as opposed to long-serving SABC hacks such as Miranda Strydom and Makhosini Nkosi.

Oliver recently returned from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad where he covered America's ``War on Terror'' for SABC TV news, while Chauke was the SABC's man at Johannesburg International Airport in the midst of the confusion shortly after the plane attacks against the Pentagon and the World Trade Center's twin-towers of New York.

At the SABC's Weavind Park offices in Pretoria, many staffers are still baffled at the sudden re-instatement of senior journalist Kgomotso Sebetso, who was facing allegations of sexual harrassment. http://152.111.1.87/argief/berigte/citypress/2001/11/04/4/15.html

30 November 2001: Zikalala appointed spokesman by the Joe Modise family after Modise dies

23 December 2001: City Press reveals that the SABC board is seeking to redeploy or pay out the head of the news department Barney Mothombothi because he was not doing enough to promote the ANC.

This comes as City Press learned that the board recently reprimanded senior news management on their lack of coverage of important political events in the country.

The scolding of the public broadcaster by the board appeared to be in line with concerns recently expressed by government that the corporation was failing in its duty to cover important political events.

City Press also revealed that Mthombothi had sent letters to Snuki Zikalala, Phil Molefe and Themba Mthembu asking for a meeting but that the three had refused saying they were on holiday and should not be bothered http://152.111.1.87/argief/berigte/citypress/2001/12/23/2/11.html