TV licence fee collection company Lorna Vision is taking legal action against the SABC for refusing to pay it millions for its collection work. Lorna Vision vowed that it had met its contractual obligations and helped the broadcaster collect about R300m in outstanding TV licence fees for the past two years.
The former acting SABC CEO James Aguma awarded a contract to Lorna Vision in 2015 without going out to tender. According to the deal, Lorna Vision would create and implement a pilot debt collection system – getting a 10% cut of 10,000 TV licence renewals a month.
Documents showed that Lorna Vision was paid consulting fees for its 24-month pilot upfront, before all services were delivered. Sylvia Tladi, who heads the broadcaster’s audience services division, has opposed Lorna Vision’s legal application saying the agreement was concluded in contravention of the SABC’s provisions. “Lorna Vision cannot lawfully be entitled to receive payment flowing from an unlawful and/or irregular contract,” she said.
Tladi further cited pending investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) as one of the reasons the SABC was withholding payment. She blamed Aguma for the mess, describing him in court papers as the “employee responsible for the unlawfulness in this matter”.
Two weeks before his suspension, Aguma wrote to Lorna Vision to terminate the contract, citing “budgetary constraints”. However, Lorna Vision has dismissed the SABC’s excuse of budget constraints for terminating the contract, saying it was a falsehood as the broadcaster did not have to pay Lorna Vision itself, but from funds collected from TV licence payments using the company’s unique technology system and strategy.