Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity has obtained a warrant to seize assets worth about R40 000 from the department of correctional services for its failure to pay a legal bill.
Solidarity general secretary Dirk Hermann said on Wednesday that the department owed the trade union money after showing up unprepared for a court case challenging affirmative action policies.
"In this case, the department of correctional services showed up at court unprepared and subsequently offered to cover Solidarity's legal costs. However, the department failed to do so," said Hermann.
Solidarity asked the Labour Court on Wednesday to issue a warrant for seizure of goods.
"It seems that the state, with its deep pockets, uses litigation in an attempt to bankrupt civic organisations financed by ordinary South Africans," said Hermann.
"The state uses taxpayers' money against them, which we cannot allow. We have therefore obtained a warrant that has already been handed to the sheriff in order to proceed with the seizure of goods of the department."
He said the department owed Solidarity about R40 000 for legal costs for that day.
The department was not immediately available for comment.
The affirmative action case involves the correctional service department refusing to promote Herman Denysschen even though he was, according to Solidarity, the best man for the job.
"The department decided to leave the post vacant instead of appointing a white man," said Hermann.
That case was scheduled to go ahead in the Labour Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.
"The court will have to give a ruling on the balance between affirmative action and an efficient public service. Solidarity has 12 affirmative action cases against the South African government.
"We are concerned about the obstacles the government continually puts in the way of the administration of justice. We get the impression that the courts are not used to administer justice, but to frustrate it.
"A civic organisation is not supposed to go to court frequently to force the government to act within the framework of the law," said Hermann.