The Department of Correctional Services says it will not challenge a court ruling that the department had discriminated against coloured employees.
On Friday, the Constitutional Court found the department had acted unfairly against seven coloured workers in the Western Cape by failing to promote them.
It ordered the department to promote the workers and remunerate them.
In 2012, the department decided not to promote 10 employees, despite them being recommended for the posts, because of its employment equity plan.
This was based on national statistics, which workers said was unfair since more coloured people resided in the Western Cape.
The other three employees were denied appeal for other reasons.
DCS regional spokesperson Simphiwe Xako tells the Daily Voice: “We respect the decision of the constitutional court. We are not going to challenge it.”
The employees will now get the promotions they’ve been wanting for four years, says Francois Redelinghuys from Solidarity union, who led the court application.
Calling the court’s decision a major victory, he told EWN: “The ConCourt has ruled that seven of our applicants must be reinstated in the position they initially applied for.
“They weren’t considered for the position because of their skin colour and they will receive back pay for four years.”
DCS Deputy Regional Commissioner Freddie Engelbrecht says his colleagues are overjoyed.
“They are very happy. There were tears of joy,” he said.
“It is very difficult to challenge your employer. But we went on the biblical principle where if you know something is wrong and you do nothing then you are also guilty.
“The employment equity act says you must implement the national and regional demographics. What the department was doing was not on legal grounds.
“We didn’t want to go to the Constitutional Court; we didn’t want to go to any court for that matter.
“This was a just cause, not a coloured issue. We want to have a country where people are promoted based on merit,” he says.
Engelbrecht says the employees were scared of losing their jobs.
“But we believe in a higher authority and God protected us. Our people were investigated and they were intimidated everyday, but we stood fast,” he adds.
Cosatu Western Cape secretary-general Tony Ehrenreich has welcomed the findings.
“We must use a provincial demographic because South Africa evolved the way it did because of apartheid. All government departments, including Helen Zille, should apply affirmative action to stop the over-employment of whites in senior management positions,” he says.