FXI Law Clinic Cases

The FXI has contributed to the body of knowledge on freedom of expression in South Africa through cases undertaken by the FXI Law Clinic. The FXI Law Clinic has intervened in over 200 freedom of expression related matters since its inception. 

Brief history of the FXI Law Clinic

The Media Defence Trust was established in 1989 in response to the wave of state action against the media, such as the closure of newspapers and detention of journalists. In its six years of establishment the Media Defence Trust was the sole supporter and defender of independent media and journalists. The Media Defence Trust was incorporated into the FXI in 1994, at the request of its administrators, and became the Defence Fund of the FXI. The Defence Fund was re-launched as the Freedom of Expression Defence Fund in 1997 to reflect the broadening of its role to include all cases involving freedom of expression and access to information. The Freedom of Expression Institute Law Clinic was established in 2005 and is accredited by the Law Society of South Africa.

Democratic Alliance and SABC
In November 2011 Mr Motsoeneng was appointed as the acting COO of the SABC. Between 11 November 2011 and 26 February 2012, a series of complaints were lodged by former employees of the SABC which focussed on the alleged irregular appointment and conduct of Mr Motsoeneng as the acting COO of the SABC. The Public Protector released a report titled when Governance Fails, where it entailed the maladministration of the SABC and that Mr Motsoeneng lied about his qualifications and gave himself several salary increments within a period of one year. The report also included the how the disciplinary actions should be taken against Mr Motsoeneng and that the Minister should appoint a qualified individual in the role of COO within 90 days.

Subsequent to that report, the SABC board claimed to have hired an independent law firm to investigate the issues raised in the report and they were satisfied that there was no wrongdoing by Mr Motsoeneng and the board hired him as the permanent COO.

The applicant brought an application to set aside the decision by the Minister to appoint Mr Motsoeneng until the disciplinary hearing against the COO were concluded. The Minster contended that she had looked at all the factors (Public Protectors report, Mchunus report and the Board recommendation) and she felt that her decision to appoint Mr Motsoeneng was correct. The court however held that the actions held by the Minister were irrational and the appointment was reviewed and set aside.
Open/View PDF (Democratic-Alliance-v-SABC.pdf)
August 24 1999 By Bongani Phiri public protector, disciplinary hearing
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