SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng

The SABC has lost its first round.

The High Court in Pretoria yesterday ordered that the South African Broadcasting Corporation cannot enforce its policy of not screening violent protests in South Africa.

The public broadcaster‚ widely condemned for its controversial editorial policy‚ was taken to court by the Helen Suzman Foundation.

The interdict also states that the SABC should comply with the Constitution and the Broadcasting Act, and therefore cannot ban the reporting of certain issues, including matters which might reflect negatively on President Jacob Zuma.

The foundation will‚ at a later date in court‚ seek to review and set aside the censorship policy.

HSF director Francis Antonie says: “This is a matter of principle. Our central point is that the editorial policy cannot violate either the Bill of Rights, the Constitution or the Broadcasting Act.”

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has also ruled that the SABC lift its ban on airing violent protests.

The broadcaster said it would challenge this ruling since it isn’t sure if it is legally binding.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) yesterday protested outside the SABC offices in Sea Point demanding that boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng step down.

SACP deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila said: “Hlaudi Motsoeneng is not qualified to lead the SABC. He must go.”

The Democratic Alliance has also asked that a Commission of Inquiry be established to investigate the SABC.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane accused the ANC of using the SABC to hide the true state of affairs in South Africa from the world.

And nearly R300 000 has been raised for eight SABC journalists who were fired after speaking out against Motsoeneng’s censorship policies.

The reporters have approached the Constitutional Court to declare their axing “unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid”.