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Suna Venter's Boss: I Am Angry At Every SABC Employee Who Helped Motsoeneng

Foeta Krige, a member of the SABC8, writes about the loss of a colleague and friend as court orders Motsoeneng must pay legal costs.

04/07/2017 12:30 SAST | Updated 08/09/2017 12:21 SAST
Foeta Krige
Suna Venter and Foeta Krige, both part of the SABC8 who were suspended by the SABC in 2016 for speaking out against censorship by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, then the SABC's chief operations officer. Venter died last week.

One of the things you taught me in life is that one should: never write or speak when you are angry or emotional.

So I've waited: I did not post to Facebook. I did not tweet or retweet. I tried to read all the tributes to you, the accolades, the newspaper articles.

But the anger has not gone away. So I've waited.

Your family asked me to say something at your memorial service. But I knew I would not be able to speak of your love and compassion if the anger was still there.

It is four days later, but the anger is still simmering.

So I've decided instead to write about my anger.

Gallo Images
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 06 Karima Brown, Suna Venter, Solly Mapaila and Foeta Krige during a protest organised by the SACP against SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng outside the Auckland studios on July 06, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The SACP lashed out at Motsoeneng for using the 90% local quota to “divide workers in the creative industries and to sow confusion among the public”. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla)

I'm angry at each and every SABC employee who was part of the silent coup of Hlaudi Moetsoeneng.

I'm angry at every scared HR official who turned a blind eye when looking at documents of illegal and non-procedural appointments and dismissals.

I'm angry at every administrator working in the legal and financial department in their designer clothes and luxury cars who arrived late every morning and left early every day with only one mission: to get through a day's work without taking responsibility for what was happening at the public broadcaster.

I'm angry at people who knew the financial status of the SABC and helped to concoct financial statements and observed wordlessly how top management and the previous board lied to Parliament and to the people of South Africa on numerous occasions.

"Ah, I can see them now

Clutching a handkerchief

And blowing me a kiss

Discreetly asking how?

How come she died so young?

Or was she very old

Is the body still warm?

Is it already cold?"

I'm angry at white colleagues who used their experience gathered in a white, privileged SABC to become part and parcel of the 'new' SABC, lying to reinstate the man who is responsible for the state that we are in. White, middle-aged men with only one objective: to gather as much pension money as possible and to buy a new white Mercedes-Benz every two years; men with cancerous bodies who came back from pension as advisors with exuberant packages to advise an illiterate narcissist with a God complex to bleed empty the SABC in the name of transformation and upliftment.

I knew these men pre-1994.

They went to church on Sundays, they never missed a Blue Bulls rugby game at Loftus or the Pretoria strip clubs during lunch hours.

They know who they are: now uttering racist and sexist comments when talking to white friends at coffee tables while licking the arses of their unscrupulous bosses, firing every person deemed to be a stumble block in the path of so-called transformation, losing every mediation case and blaming it on instructions from their "black bosses".

Gallo Images
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 26: SABC journalists Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp rejoice after the Labour Court’s ruling on July 26, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Labour Court ruled that the dismissal of the four journalists by the corporation was unlawful and should be reinstated. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla)

But I am also angry with all the politicians: our elected leaders who could not and cannot wait to use the public podium to express shock and horror at what is happening at the public broadcaster, and what happened to you, demanding police protection for journalists under threat, waiting for the next event to make a sexy media statement and show how much they care.

Police ministers who play for the public gallery and Twitter audiences, using words and promises written by their spin doctors, without believing, without the intention to act. I'm angry at empty promises and fake concern.

"Ah, I can see them all

So formal and so stiff

Like a sergeant-at-arms

At the policeman's ball

And everybody's pushing

To be the first in line

Their hearts upon their sleeves

Like a ten-cent valentine."

I'm angry at the police officers.

The ones who gathered case numbers of each and every death threat and act of violence and intimidation, just to combine it into one large file to show their superiors that they are doing their jobs.

Those warrant officers who did not want to take down your statements, who verbally abused you - a woman in distress - and accused you of driving your car with flat tyres. This, after all, four tyres had been slashed.

The policeman who turned his back and walked away because he believed the bullet wounds to your face were caused by domestic violence, even though you lived alone. And now you're dead.

"All doors are open wide

They poke around inside

My desk, my drawers, my trunk

There's nothing left to hide

Some love letters are there

And an old photograph

They've laid my poor soul bare

And all they do is laugh

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha - ha, ha, ha!"

I asked you to write a book about your experiences. I thought it would be good therapy while we were waiting for the wheel to turn. You sent me the first three chapters of the book. You said it should be titled Rudely Interrupted. Chapter one starts with the sentence: "They couldn't look me in the eye..."

I'm angry at them. Those people who could not look you in the eye; who asked you not to make a fuss and who gave you 15 minutes to leave the premises of the place you loved so dearly.

I'm angry at the line managers who ignored each and every e-mail I wrote about your safety.

At the informants in the office who fed information to the handlers who passed it on to the intimidators.

The spokespeople who used the mighty platform of the SABC to belittle you; who said the death threats against you were a police matter and not concerning the corporation.

There are people who call themselves HR consultants. They ignored you when you asked for advice on your health situation.

And now you're dead.

And now those same people are putting out media statements praising your life and lamenting the death of an amazing journalist who was an asset for the broadcaster.

"Ah, I see all of you

All of my phony friends

Who can't wait till it ends

Who can't wait till it's through

Oh, I see all of you

You've been laughing all these years

And now all that you have left

Are a few crocodile tears"

And because we believed in the system, we were waiting patiently for the law to take its course. We're still waiting.

And yes, I'm angry at myself for convincing you that the right thing to do was to believe in the system.

You wrote something on Facebook, days before you died: "Some people were for it and said it out loud and clear; some people were against it and made it clearly known, and some people said nothing at all. It is this group I struggle hardest to forgive."

I'm also angry at those people – the colleagues who were afraid, who whispered in the lifts, in the smoke rooms and the noisy corners about all the ongoing injustices, all while paralysed in fear at the imaginary hidden microphones and moles in our midst. People who thought you were doing it all for attention; the gossip mongers and so-called journalists who couldn't wait to spread stories and rumours without facts.

"Now all this that I see

Is not what you deserve

They really have a nerve

To say these things to you"

You deserved more. I'm still waiting. I'm still angry.

** With apologies to Jacques Brel. Lyrics adapted from 'Funeral Tango'.

** Foeta Krige is the executive producer of the news and actuality programmes Monitor and Spektrum on RSG. He was part of the SABC-8 who were suspended by the broadcaster in 2016. He was also Venter's line-manager.

** Venter was laid to rest out of the Dutch Reformed Church, Fairland, Johannesburg on Tuesday.