The Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in SABC v DA is important not only because it emphasises that the office of the Public Protector, like all state institutions set up in Chapter 9 of the Constitution to support constitutional democracy, is a respected one and that remedial action taken by the Public Protector should not be ignored, but also because the court emphasised in paragraph 51 of its judgment that it is important for the public and the court to be reassured that there has been no impropriety in public life.
A senior public officer’s function is to inspire confidence that all is well in public life. The court accordingly criticised the Minister of Communications and the Chairperson of the SABC for trying to shield themselves from scrutiny by resorting to technical points that the allegations regarding the rationality and unlawfulness of Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment were pieced together from media reports that constituted hearsay evidence. The court stated that the Minister and the Chairperson owed not just the court but also their fellow citizens an explanation. Public officials are expected to make full and frank disclosure.