About 100 media workers, members of civil organisations and the public had gathered along Henley Road outside the SABC to picket as six of the public broadcaster’s employees’ disciplinary hearings were being heard.

Supporters began gathering as early as 8am outside the SABC in Johannesburg in support of Thandeka Gqubule, Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Jacques Steenkamp, Krivani Pillay and Busisiwe Ntuli, who were charged with contravening their employment code at the broadcaster.

Earlier this month Gqubule, Krige and Venter were served with suspension letters for allegedly contravening an order not to cover protests when they voiced their disagreement with not being allowed to cover a Right2Know protest outside the SABC’s building.

Steenkamp, Pillay and Ntuli were charged with leaking a letter they had written to chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng about their unhappiness with the editorial policies at the broadcaster.

Group executive editor of Independent Newspapers Karima Brown told the crowd gathered outside that she was receiving messages from employees inside the building who said they had been barred from leaving the building and joining the picket.

The crowds chanted “Let them out!” as they formed a long chain along the road, outside the SABC building.

News editors from various publications and media houses voiced their support to the employees.

Former SABC employee Eusebius McKaiser said the right of journalists needed to be respected in terms of labour law.

“If labour rights are being trampled upon it’s a serious matter in law. The reality is that the light …
is now being shone on the darkness at the SABC central,” McKaiser said. – News24