Health dept lawyers misled court, says judge

2014-03-27 00:00

THE Durban Labour Court has found a law firm representing the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health had deliberately attempted to mislead the court in a decade long labour dispute.

Judge Hillary Rabkin-Naicker found that AP Shangase and Associates purposely withheld transcripts. She said the attorney did so to prolong the dispute and to deliberately prejudice a former provincial advanced life support paramedic Ravind Sadapal who had been fired unfairly in 2004.

But the department’s attorney Philani Shangase told The Witness he “fully disagrees” with the judgment and said his client is prepared to appeal.

“The attempt to mislead the court on the papers before me reflects extremely poorly on the Department of Health and its attorney of record. The inference to be drawn on a reading of the papers before me is that the DoH’s dilatory prosecution of the application to review was intentional. The prejudice to Sadapal of the delay is blatant. Sadapal was misled by the DoH, as was the court, as to the allegedly incomplete record,” said Rabkin-Naicker.

Rabkin-Naicker found in favour of a former Chatsworth-based paramedic Sadapal who has been fighting the department for reinstatement since 2004. He is now likely to receive over R2 million in back pay.

Shangase said he would never purposely withhold any record from the court.

“We, much like Sadapal, want this matter finalised. It would make no sense for either myself or the DoH to deliberately mislead the court. I full disagree with the judgment. We will most likely appeal the decision,” he said.

Sadapal is expected to return to work on Monday.

His lawyer, Ramesh Luckychand, said his client had “been through hell” over the past 10 years.

“I did this work pro bono as I believed in him. His treatment by the DoH is largely to do with his outspokenness against corruption within the department,” said Lucky­chand.

After being dismissed in 2004, Sadapal referred the matter to the bargaining council and won — being reinstated in October 2005.

But just three months later, the DoH asked for the decision to be reviewed.

In November 2009, the review was successful by the DoH, but after arbitration in October 2011, Sadapal won again and was reinstated. The DoH again took it on review.

But due to the length of time it has taken for the matter to finalised, Sadapal asked the labour court to dismiss the review, which was done on Tuesday.

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