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Bloemfontein - A National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) employee's appeal against his dismissal was upheld in the Constitutional Court on Monday.
Derrick Grootboom appealed against a judgment of the Labour Appeal Court.
Grootboom was suspended on allegations of misconduct from the NPA in 2005. While on suspension he left South Africa to study in the United Kingdom for 12 months.
During this time the NPA informed him he had been discharged from the public service in terms of the Public Service Act.
The section in the act used provides for the discharge of public servants who stayed away from work for longer than one month without their employer's permission.
Grootboom asked the Labour Court to set aside his discharge, but he lost. The Labour Appeal Court also refused to set the discharge aside and dismissed his appeal. The Supreme Court of Appeal denied him leave to appeal against the Labour Appeal Court’s decision.
Grootboom approached the Constitutional Court arguing he had not absented himself from his official duties within the meaning of the section of the act. He contended his discharge was therefore invalid.
On Monday, the court unanimously held that the requirements for Grootboom’s discharge under the section in the act had not been met. It held that because of his suspension he had been barred from being at work and from performing any official duties.
He therefore did not stay away from work by himself, without his employer’s permission.
The Constitutional Court upheld the appeal with costs and declared that Grootboom had not absented himself.
He therefore remained in the NPA’s employ.