Solidarity criticises delay in court case

SOLIDARITY'S court action against the Department of Correctional Services over affirmative action practices was postponed to September in the Johannesburg labour court yesterday.

SOLIDARITY'S court action against the Department of Correctional Services over affirmative action practices was postponed to September in the Johannesburg labour court yesterday.

The trade union was challenging the government's affirmative action practices and questioning why white candidate Herman Denysschen was not given a job in the department.

In court papers, the union claimed that the position was not advertised as a designated post for achieving affirmative action.

It specifically stated that all interested applicants, who complied with the minimum set requirements, irrespective of race of gender, had a right to apply. Denysschen was shortlisted for the post in July 2007 and was interviewed by a panel which recommended him for the position.

He later received notification that the post of assistant director PAS systems management would not be filled as it did not fit the equity plans of logistics.

"It is established law that ... it is not only discrimination, but it's also presumed to be unfair," the union said.

Solidarity deputy secretary general Dirk Hermann said the union was not happy about the postponement as it meant that justice would be delayed.

"Correctional Services knew about the case from February ... they knew what was in dispute ... they knew for a long time.

"Late last night they filed some papers and this morning came here... unprepared, without a witness."

But the department had offered to pay the union's costs for yesterday and its additional costs for the remainder of the trial.

Hermann said this could run into tens of thousands of rands.

"There is a real person involved here. He's been waiting for justice since 2008 and must now wait another four months." He said there was huge uncertainty in South Africa about the boundaries of affirmative action.

Solidarity would ask the court to rule on the balance between affirmative action and an efficient public service. The case is the second in a series of 10 being brought by Solidarity.

In the first, involving Captain Renate Barnard of the SAPS, the labour court ruled that she be promoted. The police are appealing the ruling.

The Denysschen case resumes on September 23. - Sapa

X