Solidarity slams SAPS over affirmative action appeal


Trade union Solidarity has slammed a decision by the police to ask for leave to appeal against the Labour Court’s affirmative action ruling in favour of Captain Renate Barnard. The Labour Court ruled last week that the police had to promote Captain Barnard after finding, among other things, that the force was guilty of unfair racial discrimination.

Barnard (pictured) has been fighting for promotion since 2005 and the union says the police’s appeal could prolong her battle for promotion by another two years. Solidarity says the law enforcement agency should “rather buy police vehicles with the nearly R1 million they would spend on legal costs, instead of going ahead with the appeal against a loyal police member whose dream it is to serve the public.”

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann says almost “the entire South Africa agreed that it was unfair to twice deny a top achiever promotion and then to leave the position vacant because no suitable black candidate was available. Only the [police] believes that such an act of gross discrimination could be fair.
“Naturally, Solidarity will oppose the appeal at all levels. The risk for the SAPS [South African Police Service] is that a higher court could make the same ruling. This also paves the way for an eventual ruling by the Constitutional Court, which could create a constitutional precedent against the type of affirmative action the SAPS is implementing in this case. Therefore, the SAPS will only create a stronger precedent against themselves and the state,” Hermann added.
“If it weren’t for the fact that Captain Barnard is the innocent victim in the matter, we would have preferred further appeal by the SAPS in order to establish stronger case law, but for the sake of Captain Barnard we will fight the SAPS’s attempt to appeal. The SAPS is now simply fighting battles in court because they can, and not because it’s the right thing to do.
“They have deep pockets, allowing them to litigate with taxpayers’ money. Meanwhile a loyal police member is deprived of the opportunity to serve the public according to her full potential. This is not only to the detriment of Captain Barnard, but is also to the detriment of every member of the public who is deprived of the service. The SAPS should rather close this case file and adjust their affirmative action processes in accordance with the Employment Equity Act. The matter is already an embarrassment for the state, which is supposed to set an example of how to function within a constitutional state. The embarrassment will only increase now,” Hermann says.