Ruling reserved over affirmative action

Below is an article from our Affirmative Action Media Monitoring Project. These articles represent a wide variety of views. These views do not necessarily represent the views of AAPF but instead are intended to provide you with an overview of the current affirmative action debate. May 4, 2011

Johannesburg - The Johannesburg Labour Appeal Court on Wednesday reserved judgement on an attempt by the SAPS to contest an earlier ruling promoting a white woman police officer to superintendent.

Trade union Solidarity, which is representing Captain Renate Barnard, said it was expected to take between three months and a year for a ruling to be made.

The union's Dirk Hermann said arguments in court on Wednesday centred on how to apply affirmative action in line with the Constitution. He said the matter might end up in the Constitutional Court.

On February 26 last year the Labour Court ordered the police to promote Barnard to superintendent after she was denied the move because of her skin colour.

"She applied for a promotion as superintendent of the complaints investigation unit for the first time in 2005. She has been working as a captain in the same unit since 2004," Hermann said.

A selection panel twice identified Barnard as the best candidate for the post in the inspectorate, created to improve service delivery to the public. The job was advertised in September 2005. Barnard and other candidates applied for it.

Service delivery jeopardised

After interviews were held, the panel allocated a mark of 86.67% to her, which was 17.5% higher than the next-highest score allocated to a Captain Shibambu.

The panel found the difference in Barnard and Shibambu's scores so great that service delivery would be jeopardised if Shibambu was appointed in the post.

Although the panel recommended Barnard for appointment, Assistant Commissioner Rasegatla resolved not to appoint her because doing so would not be in line with affirmative action policies. The position was not filled.

When the position was again advertised in 2006, Barnard reapplied and was once again the most suitable candidate. This time Rasegatla decided she should be appointed. In his recommendation to former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, he pointed out that other candidates had had a year to improve to compete with her, but had not done so. Selebi turned down her appointment on the grounds that it would not promote affirmative action.

He subsequently withdrew the post