SAA backtracks on white cadet ban - Solidarity

Dirk Hermann
19 August 2012

Union says carrier has rescinded automatic online rejection of white male applicants

SAA revokes ban on white candidates for cadet programme

South African Airways (SAA) declared in a lawyer's letter sent to trade union, Solidarity, that it would lift its ban on the applications of white, male students for its controversial cadet programme. This comes within hours after Solidarity instituted legal action against SAA on behalf of three young white applicants. Solidarity on Friday also launched an extensive public protest campaign against SAA.

Solidarity's action followed when it became known that the applications of white applicants for SAA's cadet programme were immediately being rejected on the airline's website, while those of black applicants with the same profile were accepted.

"This total ban on the appointment of whites goes against the letter and spirit of the South African Constitution," Dirk Hermann, Solidarity's Deputy General Secretary said.

In order to avert Solidarity's court action, SAA informed the trade union in writing that the closing date for applications for the cadet programme was postponed to the end of August, and that the application form on its website was adapted, giving white men also the opportunity to apply.

In its lawyer's letter, Solidarity demanded that SAA abolish its quota system for cadets with immediate effect, and that the application process be re-opened. Meanwhile, members of the public were asked to send protest messages to SAA CEO, Siza Mzimela, and to Cheryl Carolus, SAA Board Chair via Solidarity's protest web page,, as part of a public campaign against SAA.

According to Hermann, the success of the Stop SAA campaign shows that South Africans can let their voices be heard in an effective way.

In this case, Solidarity acted on behalf of Pierre de Klerk (19), Armand Moolman (21) and Jan-Paul Nel (20), all of whom applied for the programme but were rejected based on the colour of their skin. According to Hermann, De Klerk, Moolman and Nel met all the requirements for the programme, but their applications were instantly rejected simply because they are white. "De Klerk passed matric with a B symbol for maths and science at higher grade, and an A symbol for English at higher grade. Moolman and Nel too, meet all the requirements and already have private pilots' licences (PPLs)."

Within minutes of submitting their applications, the three of them all received a letter advising them that their applications were "regrettably" unsuccessful. The letter furthermore states that they should not feel discouraged to apply for future positions in SAA.

Text of lawyer's letter from Serfontein Viljoen & Swart on behalf of Solidarity to SAA CEO Ms Sizakele Mzimela, August 17 2012:



Dear Madam,

In addition to our previous letter on even date, we confirm that we act on behalf of Solidarity Trade Union and two of its members, Mr Pierre de Klerk, Mr Armand Moolman and Mr.Jan - Paul Nel respectively.

Our clients' instructions are as follows:

1. Our client's members, all white males, applied for admittance to the SAA Cadet Pilot Development Program by filling out the online application form provided by the SAA.

2. All of our client's members meets the criteria that applicants to the development programme must meet, as stipulated in the online application.

3. Having filled out the first compulsory page of the online application form and having submitted the same, the application of our client's members were rejected as unsuccessful.

4. The reason for their applications being unsuccessful was because of their race and gender, being white and male. The reason for their applications being unsuccessful was confirmed in the media by the SAA's spokesperson Kabelo Ledwaba, reported to have told Beeld that the Cadet Programme was being advertised online as an initiative to bring pilot demographics in line with the country's demographics. Ledwaba was reported to have said that the airline would appoint male, white pilots when there were vacant posts for which applicants of other races could not be found.

5. It is obvious that the applications of our client's members were unsuccessful solely because of their race and gender.

6. According to our instruction our clients demand the following:

6.1 That the applications of mr Pierre de Klerk, mr Armand Moolman and mr.Jan Paul Nel be accepted and evaluated with the applications of all other candidates accepted for evaluation.

6.2 That the deadline for submission of the application form, being 17 August 2012 (today), be postponed to a future date to allow other white males to apply for the program.

6.3 That the online application form be changed to allow white males to apply for the programme.

6.4 That you revert to us before close of business today regarding our client's aforesaid demands.

We place on record that, if you should fail to adhere to us regarding the above demands of our clients, our instructions are to proceed with appropriate legal action.

We await your most urgent reply.

Yours faithfully


Pp: Mr. Fanus Swart

Letter of reply by SAA, August 17 2012:

Statement issued by Dirk Hermann, Deputy General Secretary: Solidarity, August 19 2012

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 responses to this article

How embarrassing SAA!!! this is absolutely disgusting that this even happened. I am planning on boycotting SAA and plan to fly other airlines that never do this kind of thing. Its a bit too late to backtrack now. as an airline you should be ashamed of . .more

by iris on August 19 2012, 14:12
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The Road Ahead
I am most curious to know how the applications will be handled going forward. Process was simple. All white male applicants were rejected automatically, now they will just reject them manually and now even claiming that they have followed due . .more

by Thin Ice on August 19 2012, 17:26
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SAA excludes whites
Well done Solidarity!
Going to be flying SAA a lot less from now on.

by Ja well no fine on August 19 2012, 17:41
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are you that easily fooled?
SAA will now "process" the applications - and hit "delete".

by Realist on August 19 2012, 18:13
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Solidarity - Fantastic!
This is awesome news!
Thanks Solidarity, however I do believe that there should be a control put in place to ensure that the white prospective pilots are indeed processed.

by Charnelle Bester on August 19 2012, 19:06
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Cadet pilot
My son tried all day to access the website to apply. I believe that SAA will still reject the applicants as planned. Need to boycot SAA. Only solution for my son is to look for opera unities overseas, like so many other talented white kids.
Will . .more

by W van Niekerk on August 19 2012, 19:36
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Do You Believe SAA
I agree that now, SAA will simply manually reject this applications.
Looking at the ages of these guys, its obvious that they never bennefitted under the NP, grew up in the Noo Democratic SA. This AA thing has now become null and void, and is rather . .more

by Tony on August 19 2012, 19:42
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black racist scum
this will not change anything!!! the dolts at SAA will find other excuses not to employ these lads, trust me!!!!

by Hussein on August 19 2012, 20:25
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Will they also turn up their noses?
I wonder whether SAA will turn up their noses at white Search and Rescue pilots when the consequences of their policies come home to roost, as it were.

by Mike McWilliams on August 19 2012, 21:59
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bru you cant possibly be serious..A piece of straight faced satire perhaps?

by CM on August 19 2012, 23:11
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Cadet Programme - SAA
I Support Solidarity concen in terms of this pilot cadet programme, it is full of lies because I am a black professional and there are black people who applied online and just after seconds, they received a stupid regret letter. I did sent a letter to . .more

by TCR on August 20 2012, 07:08
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Your response is very level headed and totally fair - and this all anybody wants - End Discrimination based on race - It was criminal under the NP and it is is criminal under the ANC.

by Democrat on August 20 2012, 07:55
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Now that they have been caught out they will be more vindictive and the whities will be eliminated manually.

by wm on August 20 2012, 08:11
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SAA and Solidarity
SAA has made the right noises but those at the top don't seem to know how to run a major airline.
I fear that they will go through the motions and then reject young white males anyway.
Perhaps the answer is for YWM to change their names to . .more

by jelry on August 20 2012, 08:38
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This is not SAA issue, other African countries had Black pilots way back in the 1960's.
Even at kulula, they must just do it SLOWLY and QUITELY by accepting the white applications and rejecting them. We want 90% BLACK PILOTS at all airlines in 10 yrs time. Bloody Apartheid BenefiDiaries!!

by Mute Fool_Makoya on August 20 2012, 09:05
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Amazing how these BOERS r still stuck in Apartheid, today majority of passengers r BLACK.
So BA/kulula must just follow suit if they want to remain in business Here?

by Mute Fool_Makoya on August 20 2012, 09:13
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Black pilots
Can anybody please tell us how many black pilots were/are on the roster for flying the former and present President on their frequent world wide trips.

last I heard there was a big commotion because two WHITE pilots, one of which was a mercenary . .more

by James Bell on August 20 2012, 13:38
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AA, cadre deployment, and Saa's inbred racism.......
will see to it that applications from prospective "white" cadets will not be seriously considered.

by Jason on August 20 2012, 14:56
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Another failed ANC affiliate
It obviously will not be long before SAA has to join forces with SANTACO in order to gain sufficient customers to remain in business. How many black air travellers will risk flying with SAA if their pilots have had a SADTU education.
People fly SAA . .more

by Anthony Caenazzo on August 20 2012, 16:03
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To qualify EACH AND EVERY pilot must spend 50 hours at the helm of the Presidents plane with him on board, then lets see how quick they change their polities.

by Open Minded on August 20 2012, 20:47
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