The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) welcomes the judgement of the Grahamstown High Court, which dismissed an appeal application by the National Prosecuting Authority with costs.

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.

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.

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. 

They approached the Grahamstown High court seeking an order to interdict our members from publishing statements which they described as defamatory.

This was despite numerous attempts to engage with the National Prosecuting Authority in order to deal with what appears to be a deeply embedded culture of racial discrimination against black prosecutors. The National director of Public Prosecution – Shamila Batohi – who is well aware of the workers concerns continue to ignore and dismiss our views.

The NPA performs a critical role in the enforcement of law and order, and that function ought to be carried out independently without fear, favour or prejudice. But how does it effectively carry out that responsibility when it treats its black employees with utter disdain, while their Indian and white counterparts are treated like royalty?

When Batohi was appointed, we were hoping that she would indeed clean the institution and do what is right, as she promised, not only in the fight against crime and corruption in the public, but also internally.

The stark contrast between the suspension of the head prosecutor in Johannesburg Pumeza Futshane on questionable grounds, and a clear refusal to act against the acting director of public prosecutions in the Eastern Cape Indhrambal Goberdan, whose actions over years borders on gross misconduct – demonstrates in no uncertain terms the racial bias of the organisation.

A number of black prosecutors have reported Goberdan, who is in the group of the Indian elites in the NPA, for flouting employment regulations and abuse of power but Batohi has refused to act against her.

There are a number of instances where Goberdan parachuted Indian and White junior prosecutors to senior roles without meeting key requirements. Some who had only served 2 months in regional courts were magically moved to the high court despite rules stipulating a mandatory 4 year service. She went to the extent of creating non-existent posts in order to benefit the “preferred” race.

Meanwhile, black prosecutors who have proven themselves time and again, are always sidelined when it comes to promotion. 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. 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. There are instances that have been reported to Batohi, such as one where Goberdan, the Eastern Cape acting Dpp, called black prosecutors as “rats.” While she denied having used the term in a derogatory manner, she has treated workers as rats, sub-humans.

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 in the initial application ruled that, “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,” he added.

In the judgement that was handed down on Tuesday, 23 November 2021, Judge Beshe said the following: “Given the context within which the statements were made, expressing the respondents’ lived experiences in the work place, I am not persuaded that a court of appeal could arrived at a different conclusion from the one I reached. Accordingly, the application for leave to appeal is dismissed with costs.”

We were successful yet again in showing the court that there is a premafacie evidence of racial discrimination. It’s strange that the national director of public prosecution doesn’t see any of it.

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