Popcru welcomes dreadlock ruling

Johannesburg - Popcru has welcomed a judgment by the Labour Appeal Court in Cape Town that five dreadlocked prison warders were unfairly dismissed.

The ruling would help build sound labour relations in the correctional services department, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said in a statement on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Norman Mampane said an appeal by correctional services against an earlier ruling on warders sporting dreadlocks was dismissed with costs.

Five warders at Pollsmoor Prison for periods varying between seven and 14 years, were dismissed in June 2007 because they wore dreadlocks and refused to cut their hair.

Mampane said none of the men had any prior disciplinary infractions, and all of them had worn their hair in the same style at work for years before they were ordered to get haircuts.

On January 26 2007, the men were suspended on the grounds that they did not comply with the department's dress code.

Mampane said Popcru had argued that the dismissal amounted to an unfair labour practice, and that many women officials wore dreadlocks and had not been suspended.

Rastafarian warder James Lebatlang told The Times newspaper he was delighted with the ruling which upheld an earlier Labour Court finding.

"I'm very happy. It's been a tough four years that I had to go through. This was unnecessary but I'm happy that it has been finalised.

"People must not supersede the country's Constitution with their own policies."
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