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The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says the flighting of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pre-recorded address to the nation last Thursday, in which he made a mistake, was an act of “sabotage,” while assuring the president that “due process will be followed and appropriate action taken.”
The public broadcaster said those involved in the production activities were “all warned in advance that they should disregard the rehearsal clip.”
Ramaphosa’s address focused on the current violence-against-women protests and xenophobia in parts of the country.
“The SABC now has strong prima facie evidence indicating that the broadcast of the incorrect clip was a well-considered and coordinated act of sabotage to bring the SABC and consequently the president into disrepute,” the SABC said in a statement.
It’s understood that all the employees involved in production at the time of the incident were given an opportunity to offer written representations to explain why instructions were disregarded.
The SABC said after considering the submissions, the corporation decided to suspend three permanent employees and one freelancer, and that the second phase of the investigation into the incident is ongoing.
“The SABC will not tolerate any acts or omissions that bring the public broadcaster into disrepute, and undermine efforts to eradicate systemic problems of malfeasance and maladministration plaguing the institution,” said the public broadcaster’s Group CEO, Madoda Mxakwe.
The SABC apologised to President Ramaphosa hours after after airing the president’s address Thursday evening.
While on a first take, read from a teleprompter at the SABC’s parliamentary studios, Ramaphosa says: “Let’s start again. I made a mistake.”
The version was not meant to be aired, but was broadcast nevertheless.
“The public broadcaster wishes to apologise to the president of the republic and the nation for any embarrassment caused in this unfortunate breach of the news production process,” SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said in a statement last Thursday.
“The SABC takes this issue seriously and can assure the president and the public that due process will be followed and appropriate action taken.”