Eight journalists receive courage award for challenging SABC.

Eight SABC journalists who are facing disciplinary action for challenging the public broadcaster’s controversial chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng have been awarded the Nat Nakasa award for their courage.

The award is presented annually by the South African Editors Forum (SANEF) to journalists in broadcast‚ online or print media who show exceptional integrity and courage in their work.

It was awarded to Jacques Steenkamp‚ Suna Venter‚ Foeta Krige‚ Krivani Pillay‚ Busisiwe Ntuli‚ Vuyo Mvoko‚ Lukhanyo Calata‚ Thandeka Gqubule at the weekend.

Several reports described the ceremony as emotional, with some of the recipients apparently in tears and carrying white balloons.

Krige and Mvoko were reportedly unable to attend the ceremony.

The journalists are facing disciplinary hearings for publicly questioning the SABC’s latest editorial policies.

Motsoeneng recently sparked a public outcry by banning coverage of violent protests.

SABC CEO Jimi Matthews also quit‚ saying the “corrosive atmosphere at the SABC had impacted negatively on his moral judgement”.

Yesterday the Sunday Times reported that Motsoeneng pushed through a R167 million contract with a production company co-owned by President Jacob Zuma’s daughter Gugu Zuma-Ncube‚ going against the advice of a six-member review panel who wanted to can the production.

Meanwhile, the ANC’s top brass is meeting today at Luthuli House in Joburg in a bid to “get the SABC out of its crisis mode”.

Matters on the agenda apparently include the irregular appointments of senior managers at the SABC, the role of the SABC board, controversial editorial decisions including the censorship of news, as well as the suspension of eight senior SABC journalists.