In a week’s time, veteran journalist, Sakaeyo Jannie, will know whether his suspension from work is valid or not.
Yesterday High Court Judge Tebogo Tau reserved judgment in a case in which Jannie, a Botswana Television (BTV) Head of News and Current Affairs, is challenging his suspension from work.
Jannie has been suspended from work with a full salary, pending a disciplinary hearing. Last month, he filed an urgent court application seeking an interdict and restraining government from putting him on suspension.
Appearing before Justice Tau on Wednesday, lawyer Mboki Chilisa, who is representing Jannie pleaded with the court to scrap the suspension because his client was not given an opportunity to make representation on why he should not be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing.
Chilisa told the court that the suspension letter delivered on the 12th June, 2013 did not even inform his client of allegations of misconduct which require investigations.
“Suspension often affects one’s dignity, reputation and self worth…,” he said, adding that his client has had an illustrious career as a public servant with no record of misconduct. The lawyer said that as a result of the suspension his client is being portrayed as unruly.
He said that the balance of convenience should favour his client because if he returns to work, he will be able to resume his duties instead of allowing the workload to pile up.
He further said that the suspension could affect his client’s progression in the public service in that there were assignments and targets to meet and would thus affect job performance assessment.
Responding on behalf of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Yarona Sharp, said that the case is urgent.
She told the court that based on the papers filed on record, Jannie had failed to prove that the suspension had greatly prejudiced him.
“The applicant’s concerns about work to be done, assessments and targets are not relevant because only the respondents as employer should be worried about those,” said Sharp.
Sharp said that there is a valid reason on why Jannie was suspended and prior to his suspension he has on numerous occasions been asked to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against him for absenting himself from work without leave.
He said that if Jannie is allowed back to work he will interfere with ongoing investigations against him.
“If he has access to the Btv newsroom, it will affect the ongoing investigations,” argued Sharp.