SABC journalists threaten news blackout

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Cape Town – Senior journalists at the SABC on Tuesday threatened to down tools following the resignation of acting CEO Jimi Matthews from the public broadcaster.

Matthews resigned from the SABC on Monday, saying recent changes at the broadcaster were “wrong” and he has compromised his values under the current leadership.

The Times reported on Tuesday that senior managers and journalists have now warned of a strike if a meeting with COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the board does not materialise following Matthews’s resignation.

The journalists, who chose to remain anonymous, reportedly said Motsoeneng “ruled like a dictator” and anyone who objects is fired.

The staff said that, if the meeting does not go ahead, they would come to work, but would not produce any news, effecting a “news blackout”.

An urgent “re-diffusion meeting” was called this morning by the SABC chairperson, who will address all employees at 12:00.

On Monday, an SABC journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told News24 that a lot of the staff are unhappy, and some are afraid of losing their jobs.

“They’re stressed out, their integrity’s being questioned. When new decisions are made, it doesn’t come to us. It gets put out to the media, and we’re just expected to comply.”

This follows the suspension of three other journalists at the SABC last week.

Three other senior staff members meanwhile sent an urgent letter to COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng over the weekend, before Matthews resigned, News24 reported on Monday.

The trio have since changed their Facebook profile pictures in protest, along with many other colleagues, which can be seen below.

A hashtag #IStandWithFoetaSunaThandeka, in reference to the three suspended reporters, has been started on Twitter and Facebook.

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