The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) – which represents members of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) – is claiming victory in a court matter it said was brought to “silence” aggrieved prosecutors.
NUPSAW on Wednesday said it welcomed the judgment of the Grahamstown High Court that dismissed, with costs, an NPA appeal application the union said was aimed at gagging its members.
NUPSAW claimed black prosecutors who have proven themselves were unfairly sidelined when it came to promotions.
“Many have been stuck at district and regional courts for over 20 years without being given opportunities that are easily passed to their Indian and white counterparts,” alleged NUPSAW.
“It has come to our attention that there’s a clandestine organisation within the NPA whose responsibility is to keep black state attorneys from growing to ensure that senior positions remain largely in the hands of the ‘favoured’ race.
“As if this was enough, the racist cabal has also racially abused African prosecutors.”
NUPSAW alleged that a senior Indian NPA official referred to African colleagues as “rats”.
The union said, these and other, complaints had been brought to the attention of Advocate Shamila Batohi, the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
“At the core of these court cases is a desperate attempt by the prosecuting body to sweep the shenanigans happening within the NPA, particularly in the Eastern Cape, under the carpet,” said NUPSAW.
“After aggrieved members went public about the abuses suffered under the NPA, most of which is racially charged, the bosses took us to court to try and intimidate us into silence.
“After losing the initial application back in August this year, which was meant to silence our members from exposing the rot in the NPA, they went on to file an application for leave to appeal the ruling which has subsequently been rejected as well.
“The attempt to block us from revealing the racist abuse has been dismissed twice now, on grounds that the said statements are truthful and in the public interest.”
Judge Nomathamsanqa Beshe said in the initial ruling: “In my view, the respondents have succeeded in showing on a balance of probabilities that the defence of truth and public interest is available to them.
“It provides them with justification for making the statements complained of in the context in which they were made and in respect of the persons to whom they were made.”
In the judgment handed down on Tuesday, 23 November 2021, Judge Beshe said: “Given the context within which the statements were made, expressing the respondents’ lived experiences in the workplace, I am not persuaded that a court of appeal could arrive at a different conclusion from the one I reached. Accordingly, the application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs.”
NUPSAW said, “We were successful yet again in showing the court that there is prima facie evidence of racial discrimination. It’s strange that the national director of public prosecution doesn’t see any of it”.