Johannesburg - Trade union Solidarity filed papers at the Johannesburg Labour Court on Thursday, asking for the SA Police Service (SAPS) affirmative action plan to be declared invalid.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann said in a statement that the union aimed to dismantle the entire plan.

“We cannot continue taking individual cases to court. Now for the first time we are taking to court the root of the problem, namely absolute racial representation,” he said.

The union had already taken the SAPS to court in 14 separate cases.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and police commissioner General Riah Phiyega were named as respondents in the documents.

Mthethwa's spokesman Zweli Mnisi said he had not seen the papers, and could not comment on its contents.

“(It is) safe to say if the matter is brought before court, then our legal team will handle the matter accordingly.”

In the papers Solidarity claimed that the SAPS's affirmative action plan amounted to social manipulation based on blatant race and gender quotas.

It said the 'ideal' race-based targets set by the SAPS affirmative action plan between 2010 to 2014 were 79.35 percent for Africans, 2.46 percent for Indians, 8.85 percent for coloureds and 9.34 percent for whites.

The union claimed this was unconstitutional.

“Under the Constitution it is impermissible to discriminate on the grounds of race and gender. The Employment Equity Act, in outlawing discrimination, echoes this principle,” the papers said.

It said the “naked pursuit” of demographic representation based on racial factors can never be lawful.

“The enactments legitimate affirmative action measures in order to redress the inequities of the past, but they positively decline to sanction social engineering mechanically designed to produce racial and gender representation in the future.”

It said that the plan did not take into account the regional differences in racial demographics.

“For example, the representation of coloured people is made to depend on national demographics despite the preponderance of such persons in the Western Cape.”

Hermann said the “problem” with absolute racial representation was that employers were beginning to “believe it was proper thing to do”.

“Solidarity wants to petition the court to give its verdict on the question of whether this practice is allowed by the Employment Equity Act and the Constitution of South Africa,” he said.

“The irony is that this racial ideology is hitting ordinary South Africans the hardest: people who are victims of poor service in various areas, including poor policing service.”

He said the court date for the case had not been set yet. - Sapa