The Black Management Forum (BMF) on Tuesday welcomed the Constitutional Court's ruling in favour of the police in an affirmative action case.
"We applaud the well thought and articulated ruling by the judges. This is essentially upholding the very law which is enshrined in our Constitution," it said in a statement.
"The BMF would like to remind all the institutions in our land that we will not find peace until workplaces reflect the national demographics of our country."
The court on Tuesday set aside an order of the Supreme Court of Appeal that the SAPS discriminated against former police officer Renate Barnard by not promoting her. Acting Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said in his majority judgment that the SAPS employment equity plan was not challenged. The court found the plan was lawfully and rationally implemented by the police commissioner in the matter concerning Barnard.
Barnard's affirmative action case goes back to 2005 when she applied for the post of lieutenant-colonel, which was superintendent according to the old rankings, for the first time. She twice applied unsuccessfully for promotion to superintendent within the police's national evaluation services, which deals with complaints by the public and public officials about police services. Despite recommendations by an interview panel and her divisional commissioner, the national police commissioner did not appoint her to the position on the basis that racial representation at the level of superintendent would be negatively affected.
The position was advertised for a third time, but was withdrawn when Barnard reapplied. Trade union Solidarity's case against the SAPS, on behalf of Barnard, was referred to the Labour Court. In February 2010 the court ruled in the union's favour. The court ruled Barnard be promoted retrospectively from July 27, 2006 to superintendent. In May 2011, the SAPS was granted leave to appeal and in November 2012 the Labour Appeal Court held for the SAPS. The SCA ruled in November last year in favour of Barnard and the union. The SAPS then applied for leave to appeal in the Constitutional Court. The court heard the matter in March and judgment was reserved at the time.
Barnard resigned from the police in June. She told reporters on Tuesday she was currently working in the private sector, doing forensic investigations. She said she was never against affirmative action.
"I was against the way they [the SAPS] implemented affirmative action. But I am very disappointed, especially for loyal officers in the SAPS that are serving there despite difficult circumstances."
She was disappointed the court did not consider "one of the best constitutions in the world", according to which there would be no discrimination in South Africa. Solidarity echoed her disappointment.
"We did not expect this judgment. We can't believe that the Constitutional Court said today that this injustice against Renate Barnard is actually in line with the South African Constitution," chief executive Dirk Hermann said.
"We believe that history will show that this judgment was wrong."