Appeal Court: Police ‘clearly discriminated against’ white police officer

Lt-Col Renate Barnard
Lt-Col Renate Barnard

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) said on Thursday the SA Police Service had clearly discriminated against Lt-Col Renate Barnard on the basis of race.

The SCA has upheld an appeal against a decision of the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) that overturned a decision of the Labour Court, Sapa reported.

The Labour Court held that Barnard had been unfairly discriminated against when she was not appointed to a higher position.

She was not promoted to position of superintendent within a specialised unit of the SAPS, despite being the best candidate for the post. The court held that Barnard had clearly been discriminated against on the basis of race.

Barnard had twice applied unsuccessfully for promotion to the position.

The position was that of superintendent within the then National Evaluation Services (NES), dealing with complaints by the public and public officials on any matter regarding the police services.

Despite recommendations by an interviewing panel and her divisional commissioner, the national commissioner did not appoint her.

The reason given was that racial representivity at the level of superintendent would be negatively affected.

On Thursday, the SCA said it noted that the appeal turned on its own facts and that it would be presumptuous to assert and foolish to assume that the decision in this case would be an all-embracing guide to deciding future cases.

“If we are to build a cohesive society with cohesive components within the state structure, we have to be situation sensitive,” the SCA said.

The judgment further stated that to redress past imbalances with affirmative action measures, race had to be taken into account, but it should do so fairly and without losing focus that the ultimate objective was to ensure a fully inclusive society.

“One [society] compliant with all facets of our constitutional project,” it stated.