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Court order to finalise grievance

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Durban - Nearly two years after a captain in the South African Defence Force lodged a grievance over his transfer to the Bluff Military Base from the Airforce Base in Durban, a Durban High Court judge on Monday ordered the department to finalise this grievance.

The SANDF’s Grievance Board had found that it could not deal with the matter as it was now before a civilian court.

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Captain Jaganathan Moodley, a clinical psychologist at the Durban Airforce Base, said in court papers that he was transferred in September 2014 to the Bluff Military Base after an altercation with a fellow captain, the nursing sister in charge.

It was alleged that Moodley had assaulted the captain by pushing his finger into the captain’s forehead.

“I felt aggrieved by the fact that I had not been consulted with regarding (the captain’s) complaint and the decision to rotate me,” said Moodley in his affidavit. He also said the complaint was never investigated.

Further, Moodley claimed the main reason for his transfer was so that his superior’s wife could be on the same base as her husband. Moodley was transferred to her position at the Bluff Military Base and vice versa.

Moodley lodged a grievance about this move in December 2014 and in September 2015 the Grievance Board ruled that the grievance was “closed” because the issue was “now subject to the Civilian Courts”.

Moodley’s legal counsel, advocate Anthony van der Westhuizen, on Monday argued before Judge Shyam Gyanda that the defence force was “breaching their own process”.

He also said the grievance was not handled within the prescribed time limits which led to Moodley launching this urgent application for relief from the court.

Counsel for Minister and Secretary of Defence as well as the Chief of the SANDF, advocate Clement Kulati, had argued Moodley had not proven that any of his rights had been violated.

However, Judge Gyanda found that the department had to hold the inquiry as Moodley’s rights needed to be aired.

“Do the grievance inquiry and depending the outcome, one could come back to the court,” said the judge.

Moodley had also sought relief from the High Court in Pretoria. He was employed on a contract basis with the SANDF. His contract was renewed and was due to expire in June 2016.

He was granted interim relief from the court that the SANDF were interdicted and restrained from firing him pending the outcome of his court application. The Department was also directed to continue paying his salary, and all other benefits, and to be retained as a captain.

Van der Westhuizen argued that had Moodley not gone to the High Court in Pretoria, he would have been fired.

“I’m hopeful this order finalises this dispute,” said Judge Gyanda before directing the SANDF to finalise the grievance and provide written reasons of the outcome to Moodley’s attorney within 10 days.

Judge Gyanda also ordered that the SANDF pay the cost of Moodley’s court application.

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