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Hlaudi Motsoeneng loses SCA bid to keep multimillion-rand ‘success fee’

Hlaudi Motsoeneng loses SCA bid to keep multimillion-rand ‘success fee’
Former SABC chief operating officer and leader of the African Content Movement political party Hlaudi Motsoeneng. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie)

On the hook for more than R25-million, Motsoeneng is now in the sights of the Special Investigating Unit, which is ready to institute civil proceedings and refer any criminal conduct to the NPA.

Former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has failed in his bid to overturn a high court ruling that he pay back more than R11.5-million to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Pension Fund and the SABC.

Motsoeneng was dismissed from the public broadcaster on 12 June 2017. 

He was entitled to withdraw his pension but after the SABC’s audit department got wind a month later of a “success fee” worth more than R11.5-million – awarded by the board for a MultiChoice deal – it sought to take action to recoup the funds.

The “bonus” had been motivated by the SABC’s governance and nominations committee (GNC) and approved by the former group chief executive officer, James Aguma, on 19 August 2016, apparently for raising R1.19-billion for the broadcaster in the MultiChoice deal.

Motsoeneng received R11,508,549 in two tranches, on 12 and 13 September 2016.

On 20 July 2017, the SABC informed the GNC that it had no authority or mandate to pay Motsoeneng the success fee, which it also deemed to be unlawful and unwarranted, and requested that the CEO and principal officer of the pension fund withhold Motsoeneng’s pension benefits until the matter had concluded in court.

They held that if a judgment was made against Motsoeneng, the fund should offset any pension benefit due to him against the payout. 

The fund refused to accede to the request, so the SABC approached the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Johannesburg on 4 August 2017 for an interdict, restraining the fund from paying out any benefit. However, it subsequently abandoned the application.

High court

In February 2018, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the SABC jointly issued summons against Motsoeneng in Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria to recover the success fee. 

After the interim interdict was granted, on 29 June 2020, the SIU obtained leave to intervene in the application after its investigations into the affairs of the SABC uncovered sufficient grounds to institute proceedings against Motsoeneng.

In December 2021, the court set aside the former board’s decision, found the decision to be unlawful and invalid, and ordered that he repay R11,508,549 within seven days of the order, plus interest at the rate of 15.5% per annum calculated from 13 September 2016. That came to a total of R25,832,399.

Should Motsoeneng fail to pay, the court ordered that the SABC Pension Fund refund the SABC.

Motsoeneng’s attempt to appeal against the judgment was dismissed by the high court. He then petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for leave to appeal on 15 August 2022. That was dismissed with costs on 19 January 2023.

At the time, the SIU said it welcomed the SCA order as it paved the way for the unit to recover the financial losses suffered by the SABC due to unlawful and invalid decisions.

The unit has again welcomed the SCA ruling, which also declined to grant condonation to Motsoeneng for his lapsed special leave to appeal.

The full SCA judgment:

“The original order stands and paves the way for the SIU to continue with the processes to recover the R11.5-million ‘success fee’ plus interest, as well as legal fees, for clinching the MultiChoice deal, which the High Court had previously ordered Mr Motsoeneng to repay to the SABC,” the SCA said.

The SIU says in line with legislation, it is authorised to institute civil proceedings and refer evidence pointing to criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution.

Motsoeneng could not be reached either personally or through his attorney for comment. 

He has, however, reportedly told News24 that he did not view the outcome as negative.

“There is nothing bad about this issue. This matter is not the end of the road. I have said it before; I will fight this matter in the Constitutional Court,” he said. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    shame

    By the way, do these court proceedings also set aside the libraries sold to Multichoice as being an invalid contract?

  • Bruno Klynsmith says:

    If you or your supporters have deep pockets, The Concourt will always have to have the final say.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    What a wonderful piece of news today! 👏

  • D Rod says:

    This is a counterpoint to success of democracy demonstrated today. The fact that we had such a moron in an important position, thanks to democracy….

  • Ludovici DIVES says:

    Good news that gives one hope. An imbecile on a road of self destruction.

  • David McCormick says:

    There was so much wrong with the original payment of the “success fee”.

    Of more interest is how Mr Motsoeneng managed to accumulate a pension saving of more than R11,5 million between 1996 and 2017, despite having been fired from the SABC in 2007 (for having lied about his education qualifications).

    Anyone care to investigate?

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