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We do not tolerate racism, declares Sars

Nov 08 2016 16:03

Cape Town - The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has called on staff members and all South Africans to report incidents of racism, following a watershed Constitutional Court ruling on Tuesday.

The ConCourt ruled that it was unreasonable for Sars to reinstate an employee who was dismissed in 2007 for using the K-word during an altercation with his superior.

READ:  Scathing ConCourt ruling in Sars racism case

"Sars welcomes the landmark Constitutional Court’s ruling in its favour with regard to its decision to dismiss Mr Jacobus Johannes Kruger for calling his supervisor, Amos Mboweni with the K-word," it said in a statement.

"As Sars we see this as victory for creating a non-racial society and wish to encourage all citizens and staff members to immediately report all incidents of racism."

In a unanimous judgment written by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, the court highlighted the seriousness of the use of the K-word and described it as a very egregious, derogatory and humiliating expression.

“South Africa’s special sect or brand of racism was so fantastically egregious that it had to be declared a crime against humanity by no less a body than the United Nations itself,” Mogoeng said.

“Revelations of our shameful and atrocious past, made to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, were so shocking as to induce a strong sense of revulsion against racism in every sensible South African,” he wrote.

“But to still have some white South Africans address their African compatriots as monkeys, baboons or kaffirs and impugn their intellectual and leadership capabilities as inherently inferior by reason only of skin colour, suggests the opposite. And does in fact sound a very rude awakening call to all of us.”

DOWNLOAD: Read the full judgment

Sars said as an organisation it is committed to building a truly transformative culture that will contribute to the building of a non-racial South Africa. The revenue collecting agency added it was for this reason that it escalated the case to the Constitutional Court.

"As Sars, we have chosen to take a principled stand that we do not tolerate racism," it asserted.

"Notwithstanding various unsuccessful challenges at various tribunals, Sars has consistently held the view that racial abuse undermines the very core of its mandate, its value proposition and value systems. As such Sars would not tolerate such behaviour."

Kruger pleaded guilty to using the term in a disciplinary hearing, where the chairperson of the enquiry imposed the sanction of a final written warning valid for six months, a suspension without pay for 10 days and referred Kruger to counselling. However, the Sars commissioner at the time, altered the sanction to a dismissal.

Kruger then referred this the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), who ordered Sars to reinstate him.

Sars then approached the Labour Court and thereafter the Labour Appeal Court, which both found in favour of Kruger.

In the Constitutional Court, Sars said the CCMA arbitrator acted improperly by ordering reinstatement and that the award was reviewable because no reasonable arbitrator could have reached that decision.

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