Indian origin cop in South Africa wins racism case

Durban, April 29 (IANS) A South African court has ordered that an Indian origin policeman, who was overlooked for a promotion because of his race, be paid 333,000 rands (approx.$37,000) in back pay, reports said Monday.

Captain M. Munsamy had applied for three posts of superintendent in 2000, but he was denied all three on one ground or the other, The Mercury newspaper reported.

While one post was denied to him on the ground that Indian males were over-represented and Africans under-represented, another was denied on the ground that he lacked relevant experience, while the third was denied on the ground that it required a female to be appointed for the sake of “representivity”, Durban Labour Court acting judge Benita Whitcher said in her judgment.

When Munsamy reached the rank of Major in May 2011, equivalent to that of a superintendent, he sued the police ministry and department, claiming the difference in the salary he would have got had he been promoted 11 years ago and the salary he was paid 11 years later.

In his testimony to the court, claiming that he had over 25 years’ experience at the time he applied for the promotion, he said he should not be relocated for the sake of promotion as he would then have to leave his home and family in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Ruling in favour of Munsamy, the court said the main stumbling block in the whole affair was a document issued by the police employment equity division which earmarked 70 percent of the posts for black people.

“Fixed quotas for the promotion process were essentially established. The numerical goals document reflected that Africans were to be awarded 192 posts,” the report quoted the judge as saying.

“As there were only 195 posts available for promotional purposes, this target reflects that almost 100 percent of the proposed posts were to be given to African applicants. If the document had been followed strictly, it would have required that no single Indian person be promoted.”

According judge Whitcher, though affirmative action could have been used to make an organisation representative, this had to be done according to a valid employment equity plan.

“An employer may not prefer one group of designated employees over another apparently ‘over-represented group’ in the absence of proper proof. The application of affirmative action measures which resulted in the applicant being denied promotion was not in line with a defensible employment equity plan, and the conduct of the respondent (police) was unfairly discriminatory,” she added.

Meanwhile, Munsamy’s lawyer, Siphokazi Bosi, said she had received notice that police would appeal the judgment.

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