Court ruling: False allegations of racism now severely punished
24 April 2020
On 17 March 2020, the Labour Court ruled in favour of Solidarity in a case where one of its members in the SAPS was falsely accused of racism. This came after the SAPS did not respond to a formal grievance filed as far back as 5 September 2018; therefore, Solidarity approached the Labour Court.
In the judgment it was found that the SAPS should immediately institute steps for serious misconduct, namely unfair discrimination, against the perpetrator. The SAPS was also ordered to pay compensation to Colonel Janse van Vuuren for the unfair discrimination to which she was subjected, and the failure of the SAPS to take the necessary steps under the Employment Equity Act.
“It is well known that there have been several cases in the SAPS where subordinates made false allegations of racism against their superior officers when their superiors tried to promote discipline and order in the workplace. That is also true of this particular case regarding this officer that we represent. This ruling unequivocally confirms that this will not be tolerated by the courts,” said Renate Barnard, sector coordinator of Solidarity's public sector.
“It is truly unfortunate that an employer such as the SAPS, which is a law enforcement organisation and supposed to be impartial and apolitical, and which should act consistently against people who violate the law, has to be forced by a court order to comply with the law,” Barnard argued.
“This case really sets an excellent precedent for Solidarity. Employers will also have to take note of their obligation contained in section 60 of the Employment Equity Act. The impact of this ruling includes all employers in the public service as well as the private sector. In future, they will have to act proactively and effectively to eliminate discrimination in the form of false allegations from racists,” Barnard concluded.
Issued by Connie Prinsloo, Deputy General Secretary: Public Sector, 24 April 2020