White cop row may go to Constitutional Court

white cop
SAPS captain Renate Barnard. Photo: Boxer Ngwenya

Trade union Solidarity may take the police to the Constitutional Court to test the country’s employment equity laws after the Labour Appeals Court ruled against a white woman captain who had been seeking an order that she be promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the SAPS.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said Captain Renate Barnard’s case had been a “tennis match” for the past seven years.

“The latest court ruling is disappointing… We are convinced that we will obtain a final victory [in the Concourt]. There are various constitutional elements which the court has not given finality on,” Hermann said.

“We are seeking finality on the constitutionality of a quota system that is based on the national racial demographics, the balance between affirmative action and service delivery, and the constitution’s provisions regarding the non-designated group’s right to equality and dignity.”

In 2005, Barnard applied for the advertised position in the National Evaluation Service of the SAPS. She was shortlisted and interviewed with six other candidates, and it was concluded she was the best candidate.

The top four candidates were Barnard, two white men and one black man. No one was appointed and, in 2006, Barnard applied for the same position with two black candidates, and was recommended for the post, but former police commissioner Jackie Selebi vetoed the decision, saying it would not address employment equity in the service.

Barnard then went to the Labour Court and won her case, but the police appealed.

At the time, the court ruled that Barnard’s right to equality and dignity had been infringed upon and that service delivery had been compromised.

Labour Court and Labour Appeals Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo ruled on Friday that the other court misunderstood the purpose of employment equity, saying that white women were overrepresented at the job level to which Barnard sought promotion.

Judge Mlambo said Barnard also was “clearly advantaged by past unfair discriminatory laws”.

“She was aware that black candidates were targeted for the post for which she applied… Clearly the employment equity plan does not sanction mediocrity or incompetence. Manifestly this was not the case with the two black candidates in this case.”

Police spokeswoman Colonel Tummi Shai said the police had received no notice of Solidarity’s intention.

“Whether SAPS will oppose the matter shall be decided once the court documents have been served,” Shai said.

sibusiso.nkomo@inl.co.za

Cape Argus (taken from www.iol.co.za)