THE SABC was due on Friday to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal a ruling by the High Court in Cape Town, which effectively set aside the permanent appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as chief operating officer.

In May, the High Court dismissed with costs an application by Motsoeneng and the SABC for leave to appeal against a ruling that invalidated his permanent appointment, and now the broadcaster has approached the Supreme Court. In 2015, the court found that Motsoeneng’s appointment was irrational and unlawful, and set it aside.

Judge Dennis Davis, presiding over the case, said the information before Communications Minister Faith Muthambi at the time of Motsoeneng’s promotion was “muddled and unclear”, and put her “in no position to exercise a rational decision to elevate him”.

The case was brought to the court by the Democratic Alliance (DA), based on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings against him made in 2014. In her report, When Governance and Ethics Fail, Madonsela found that Motsoeneng had fabricated his matric qualification and increased his salary irregularly, from R1.5m to R2.4m in one year.

“Our lawyers will be filing our papers today (Friday) at the Supreme Court. I’m not sure if they have been submitted yet,” said SABC spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.

In May, Kganyago confirmed that Motsoeneng would remain in his position until all court processes were concluded.

Motsoeneng’s battle to retain his job at the broadcaster has dragged on for more than two years with no resolution in sight. It has played out in the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and in the Constitutional Court, where it had an abortive stint.

The DA, which has been leading the charge to remove Motsoeneng from his position, said this week that should his petition to the appellate court fail, “which is highly likely”, it will seek to have the High Court’s order enforced, which will force the broadcaster to dismiss him.

Motsoeneng has continued to attract controversy. It emerged this week that he allegedly gave an order banning the reading of newspaper headlines on all SABC platforms. There was also an uproar this week following the canning of the popular SAfm Sunday morning news show, The Editors. The public broadcaster also announced in May that it would no longer show footage of violent service-delivery protests.

“In order for the SABC to become SA’s public broadcaster of pride, it is important that it is protected from careerists like Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who will stop at nothing to please their political masters. The DA will not stop until the independence of the public broadcaster is restored,” DA spokeswoman Phumzile Van Damme said.

© BDlive 2016