Cape Town - A Khayelitsha woman, who is taking her former employer’s boyfriend to court for allegedly assaulting and racially insulting her, has been made redundant and she believes this is as a result of the court action.
Gloria Kente, 50, said in court papers the case had caused her “a great deal of anxiety”.
“My former employer has made my position redundant, although I suspect that it has to do with the fact that I have lodged these cases,” she said in her answering affidavit to an application for postponement in the Equality Court.
Kente, a mother of three and domestic worker, had testified in criminal court how her employer’s boyfriend, André van Deventer, had called her a k****r.
Kente had been a domestic worker for Mariechen Pienaar for nine years and had been staying with her at her home in Table View to take care of the couple’s children.
She had applied to the Equality Court in Cape Town for R100 000 in damages and an unconditional apology from Van Deventer.
Kente said it had been agreed last month that the case would be postponed to Tuesday. Van Deventer’s attorney, Monique Palmeiri, had then asked that the matter be postponed again which Kente’s attorney, Peter Williams, refused for several reasons.
And now, said Kente, the process had started to impact on her being able to find a new job.
“My former employer has now made my employment redundant with effect from July 1, 2014. I am in the process of looking for new employment, but my concern is that a new employer may not allow me time off to pursue these cases, and I may be severely prejudiced precisely for seeking recourse to the courts.”
Kente also raised the issue with the Equality Court itself – which she had found to be “quite unwelcoming”.
She said the initial presiding officer’s first words were: “Are you sure you are in the correct forum?”
The presiding officer had informed Williams that the complaint did not constitute “hate speech” and asked whether Kente would be prepared to reconsider the case.
Williams then made it clear they would proceed with the case and brought a recusal application on grounds that “the magistrate holds a fixed and settled view on the issue of hate speech which is wrong in law…”
The magistrate then said she would approach the case with an open mind.
Kente said: “I refer to this matter simply to point out the further anxiety that an Equality Court magistrate’s pronouncements had caused on me, and my anxiety to have this matter resolved will only cease once the case is finalised.”
According to the papers, Van Deventer relied on two reasons for his application for postponement – that the criminal court matter should be finalised first and that her expert report was filed at late notice.
Kente responded she was not aware of any directive that the criminal matter be finalised before beginning with the Equality Court case.
“We thought that the criminal matter would be disposed of fairly quickly. That has however not proved to be correct.”
The case was unlikely to wrap up within a day, and Kente asked that it continue. She wished to have the matters dealt with as quickly as possible so she could resume working.