SAPS agree to promote Johannes Jacobus Deetlefs - Solidarity

Dirk Hermann says this is fourth victory in struggle against race discrimination

Solidarity clinches fourth victory in series of affirmative action cases: Police member with scarce skills promoted after 12 years

The trade union Solidarity clinched the fourth victory in a series of 12 affirmative action lawsuits today after the Labour Court issued a court order instructing that a settlement be implemented between the trade union and the South African Police Service (SAPS). In terms of the settlement, Johannes Jacobus Deetlefs must be promoted to the rank of colonel. This extremely competent employee fought for more than 12 years to be promoted to this rank (formerly called senior superintendent).

According to Dr Dirk Hermann, deputy general secretary of Solidarity, this victory is the fourth in a series of 12 affirmative action lawsuits against the SAPS and the public service in which Solidarity is representing members. In August 2009, Solidarity obtained a victory on behalf of members of the police's forensic unit. The victory in Renate Barnard's lawsuit against the SAPS followed in 2010, which was followed by the victory in Herman Denysschen's case against the Department of Correctional Services. In all these affirmative action cases the court ruled that the employees must be promoted.

"Deetlefs is an experienced and capable employee who spent years fighting for promotion and for recognition of the work he did. Justice has finally prevailed," explains Hermann. 

Deetlefs has been a lieutenant-colonel in the police's crime intelligence unit until now. He is the commander of the interception and monitoring component. Although the post was not advertised and Deetlefs performed all the duties and responsibilities associated with the rank of senior superintendent, he presented reasons for upgrading his post to the rank of senior superintendent. However, he was not promoted.

The post was advertised in August 2009 and after being a section commander for 14 years, Deetlefs applied for it. He and two other candidates were invited for interviews. Even though Deetlefs was identified as the best candidate for the post by the interview panel and met all the requirements of the post, he was not promoted. A second round of interviews was held with Deetlefs and two other candidates in September. Once again he was identified as the best candidate, but he was not promoted.

Deetlefs lodged a grievance in December 2009. Upon his query as to why he had not been promoted, the SAPS informed him that 50% representation of women was required in the police and that Deetlef's appointment in the post in question would have impeded this target. By May 2010 Deetlefs had lodged a complaint of unfair discrimination with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), after which the matter was referred to the Labour Court.

Solidarity maintains that Deetlefs was discriminated against on the basis of race and sex. "His promotion was essential for service delivery in the SAPS and also illustrates that employees should not be discriminated against on the basis of their race or sex," explains Hermann. This victory paves the way for other cases of this nature. President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation speech that vacant posts in the public service will no longer be tolerated. Solidarity hopes that this means the practice of leaving posts vacant because of affirmative action will come to an end in the SAPS."

In terms of the settlement reached in the Labour Court, Deetlefs must be promoted to the rank of colonel from 1 February 2011. He has been employed in the SAPS since January 1982.

Statement issued by Dirk Hermann, Deputy general secretary: Solidarity, February 16 2011

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