Official goes to court following suspension over Zuma protest

2017-05-17 22:54
Demonstrators protest against South African President Jacob Zuma outside the union building in Pretoria. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

Demonstrators protest against South African President Jacob Zuma outside the union building in Pretoria. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Bloemfontein - The government official who was suspended after taking part in a protest march against President Jacob Zuma, has turned to the Labour Court to have the suspension lifted.

Teboho Loate, chief director of sport, arts and culture in the Free State, is also asking the court to declare his suspension illegal and unconstitutional, Netwerk24 reported.

Loate said in a statement to the court that he had been at the Union Buildings in Pretoria during a protest march by opposition parties and community organisations on April 12. The protest was to demand that Zuma resign. Loate said he had put in a day's leave to be in Pretoria.

Loate is a member of Cope's national executive committee.

While he was in Pretoria, a journalist asked him: "When will this end?"

"It will end one day," he replied.

Suspension letter

A few days later, a friend phoned and told him the department's top structure (who are all African National Congress members) wanted to get rid of him.

On April 24 he received a letter from the head of his department, Stanley Malope, asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended.

According to the letter, he had made disrespectful comments with regard to the president, which could constitute a breach of his code of conduct. It allegedly was also clear that this kind of behaviour would continue.

He responded, but was nevertheless suspended on May 2.

Loate said no-one told him what allegations he supposedly made against the President.

It was assumed that he would be detrimental to the department's administration and operations.

He said the President wasn't his employer. The provincial government had employed him.

The only reason for his suspension was that he had taken part in the march and the comment he had made to the media. The comment also wasn't about his employer.

He took part in the march as normal member of the public.

"It is outrageous to say that because I work for the state, I can't as a normal member of the public raise my concerns or give my opinion and take part in a lawful protest march against the government or the president," said Loate.

The code of conduct for public servants does not forbid this.

The march also wasn't at his workplace. He didn't encourage colleagues to rebel against their employer or to cause any conflict, said Loate.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  labour action  |  protests

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