FeatureNewsPoliticsState Capture

Unlawful dismissal – reinstate Steve Motale as editor, Labour Court tells The Citizen

By Pinky Khoabane

steve-motale Steve Motale

The Labour Court this morning, ordered The Citizen to reinstate former editor Steve Motale and pay his legal costs.

Judge D H Gush said The Citizen’s Publisher, Eureka Zandberg had originally followed the company’s procedures but “during the course of the correspondence between the applicant (Motale) and second respondent (Zandberg), possibly having taken advice, decided that the issue was no longer one of misconduct on the part of the applicant but simply an issue of compatibility. The second respondent conveniently ignored the fact that what led to her alleging (a) breakdown of trust (in the) relationship was the alleged misconduct of the applicant”.

In correspondence to Motale, the publisher cited the article published on 4 October 2016, “Jonas is a Liar” as the trigger to the events that led to his suspension on 2 November and his dismissal on 28 November 2016. http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/citizen-lied-stories-jonas-manuel-hlaudi-everything-motales-sacking/

Emails between Zandberg and Paul Jenkins, Chairman of Caxtons and third respondent in the matter, indicate that he had intervened in the events which led to Motale’s sacking in what the former editor found to be editorial interference and what the chairman concluded was safeguarding the paper from “an agenda”.

The Judge said Zandberg and Jenkins had made an “unexplained and unjustified leap from accusing the applicant of misconduct to simply assuming he was guilty thereof and then decided this constituted an irretrievable breakdown (of) the relationship between the applicant and the first and second respondents”.

In so doing the newspaper had ignored its own disciplinary procedures and therefore violated Motale’s contractual rights, the judgement stated.

The Judge questions the decision by Zandberg to abandon the original proposal in which she afforded the former editor a properly constituted disciplinary hearing into his alleged misconduct.

It is clear from the emails between Zandberg and Jenkins that the chairman not only planted the seed for the decision to leap from misconduct to a breakdown in the relationship but also offered a veiled threat. In an email of Monday 24, October 2016, he wrote: “I expect that there has to be at all times a reciprocal relationship of trust between the publisher and the editor, but ultimately, you are responsible for the overall success of the our newspaper…..If we suffer from a credibility loss with our readers and this translates into falling circulation, because of flawed agenda-based reporting, we will not hesitate to take whatever remedial action is necessary”. 

Zandberg’s response indicates she had heeded the chairman’s words: “Dear Paul, I had a follow-up discussion with my editor….I pointed out that after my meeting with him on Friday, I sent an email, which implied I support and trust my editor and his team. My view has changed since I received your last two-emails;  I cannot but agree with everything you highlighted. I mentioned to Steve that it affected the trust relationship between him and me negatively, as it left me with the questions: Is there an agenda…

Motale’s legal team has written to The Citizen proposing that he returns to work on Monday 30th January 2017.


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  1. I had no doubt that the Courts will rule in Motale’s favour as I have indicated elsewhere in this page. It was only a Witchunt which, evidently, has more to do with the Citizen’s Editor in Chief’s bosses i.e. Western Capitalists Monopolists.

    In addition, Motale’s reporting about the Eskom’s Brian Molefe,and other prominent figures in the SOEs, mostly contributed to his sacking.

  2. Mr Motale must find a job elsewhere asap because they’re going to make his life hell and will be under pressure.
    He who pay the piper calls the tune.

    1. Dear Martin

      Remember the SABC 4 or 8 (can never remember the number) went back to work. It is the principle.

      We all know he is not welcome…



  3. The justice at last for Motale!!! This [justice] does not necessarily limited to Steve only, but extends to the entire nation of South Africa who deserve quality & sober reporting the likes of Motale has shown.

    Little by little, we will bring WMC (White Monopoly Capital) down to it’s knees, not only in South Africa but across the planet!!! What we need is solidarity, unity, and comradeship [i.e. true comradeship, rather than “Sipho Pityana Inc-style comradeship”]

    1. The Sunday Times fired me in the middle of the night while on deadline. I was investigating Afriforum funders. The Human Rights Commission which was to help me use PAIA to force Afriforum to divulge its funders would not speak on the Monday following my dismissal. My offices were vandalised and all my files taken. Business Partners (I now learnt was a Rupert brainchild) demanded its loan within one month.I was drawn through courts and ended with nothing. In the last court case I told Business Partners’ lawyers and the Judge that they could take all my material possessions but not my brain. I advised them I was more lethal without worrying about bonds and loans.
      I didnt have an UnCensored to help me or Twitter or Facebook to which I could elicit help.
      The commercial media is the most false. Look at the complete silence of our doyens of free speech.
      Its disgraceful.



  4. Hallelujah!!……. Good for you Mr Motale. As to the respondents……. Well who am i to tell you how you should celebrate.

  5. Unbelievable that as at 15:36(27/01/2017)reading this article the Citizen does not see it newsworthy to mention these findings.Motale must come back and do his job.Ungabaleki baba Motale,ungadlali amaqhwage.

  6. Thank you

    I was once a Media Analyst(2013-2014) there is no such as Media Independance, when Analysis was done they would Instruct us that we must only focus on stories from SundayTimes, M&G, theTimes, busisnessDa, The independent, Financial times and CityPress.

    ‘The other Newspapers were pro-ANC’

    I eventually gave them a 24hr resignation noticeand thats where i Learned how the Media is White Owned and controlled.

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