The South African Police Service (SAPS) now wants to refer the Renate Barnard affirmative action case to the Constitutional Court. Yesterday, court papers were served on Solidarity which is representing Barnard. Solidarity will oppose the SAPS’s application for leave to appeal.
‘Solidarity is shocked by the SAPS’s decision to defend its unlawful race practices all the way to the Constitutional Court,’ Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s Executive Officer said in a statement. According to Hermann, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein passed an excellent judgment that balances the rights of all. ‘We get the impression that the SAPS believes that affirmative action annuls the constitutional rights to equality and dignity of white employees like Barnard. Should that be the case, then affirmative action would have a higher authority than the Constitution itself. This would imply that South Africa is an affirmative action state and not a constitutional state. We are of the opinion that an appeal to the Constitutional Court is inappropriate. The SAPS should abide by the Supreme Court of Appeal’s judgment.’
Hermann says the greatest injustice brought about by this is the time it is taking to get justice for Barnard. ‘She has been fighting for justice for the past 8 years, and a constitutional court application will simply delay this process even more. She exudes passion to serve the South African public, and surely something is patently wrong if the colour of her skin is the only stumbling block preventing her to live out her calling.’
Hermann added that although Solidarity believes that, for Barnard’s sake, it is inappropriate to refer this matter to the Constitutional Court, it will be advantageous for South Africa to obtain legal certainty about these burning issues in the highest court.
In November, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein ruled in favour of Solidarity and Barnard. The SAPS was ordered to pay the costs associated with the litigation in the Labour, Labour Appeal Courts as well as in the Supreme Court of Appeal, as well as Barnard’s backdated remuneration.
Barnard’s affirmative action struggle began as far back as 2005. Twice, she had applied for the same position. In both instances she was found to be the best candidate and the interviewing panel recommended her appointment. The position was, however, left vacant. The position was advertised a third time, but was scrapped after she had again applied for it.