DCS in contempt of court over jobs - union

2014-10-11 07:16


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Cape Town - The correctional services department has not abided by a court order to take regional demographics into account when making appointments, the Labour Court in Cape Town heard on Friday.

Greta Engelbrecht, for Solidarity, was arguing in an application for a contempt of court order against the department and other respondents.

"The contempt lies in the inaction rather than action. We are faced with a position of the frustration of nobody explaining what is being done," she told Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker.

The union launched the application on behalf of 10 of its members, Western Cape correctional services officials, who felt disadvantaged by the department's employment equity plan because they were coloured.

The respondents in the matter are Justice and Correctional Services Minister Mike Masutha, the correctional services department, the department's acting national commissioner Zach Modise and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

In February, the Cape Town Labour Court ruled that the department had to abide by an order in October to consider both national and regional demographics in recruiting and promoting staff.

The department argued that the ruling need not be implemented as it had launched an appeal.

Engelbrecht said on Friday the applicants saw the contempt of court order as the only avenue to get any feedback from the department on its compliance or lack thereof.

In February, the union sent a letter informing Masutha and Modise that their learnership race allocations were not in compliance with the judgment.

They apparently arranged to meet the union on 11 March but this was called off.

The union sent several letters between then and April to organise another meeting but apparently met with no response.

In April, the union asked the department to indicate how it was complying with the court order after it confirmed that more than 200 positions had been advertised and shortlisting was taking place.

Engelbrecht said that at a meeting in May the department undertook to investigate the appointments and review those that did not comply with the order.

"Whether a review was in fact conducted is unclear, for Solidarity received no response from DCS after this meeting even though a letter requesting feedback was sent on 4 June 2014," the union's founding affidavit stated.

‘Grave injustice’

The union claimed that the department relied solely on the national demographics for these appointments.

The application was brought on an ex parte basis, which meant the application was not initially meant to be opposed by Masutha and Modise.

However, state attorney Luzuko Kalashe submitted an affidavit stating the department was opposing the application.

Nobuntu Mbelle, for the department, argued on Friday that they were opposing the application on procedural grounds as it would be a "grave injustice" to not give the respondents an opportunity to present their case.

The union said they were not asking for the court to incarcerate or impose a fine.

Engelbrecht said that should the order be granted, it would force Masutha and/or Modise to appear in the Labour Court at a later stage to show why they should not be found guilty of contempt of court.

The order would also allow the respondents to explain their conduct by way of an affidavit.

"We actually want the same thing," Engelbrecht said.

Read more on:    solidarity  |  mildred oliphant  |  cape town

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