The SA Human Rights Commission has found discrimination against coloured applicants at the Labour Department's offices in Mitchells Plain constituted a human rights violation. File Picture: Henk Kriger/African News Agency/ANA
Cape Town - The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in the province has found that discrimination against coloured applicants at the Labour Department's offices in Mitchells Plain constituted a human rights violation that must be further investigated by its national office.

The commission conducted an investigation after a complaint laid by the organisation Gatvol Capetonians that coloured people were overlooked by the department when they applied for 46 posts last year. According to Gatvol president Fadiel Adams, about 1 000 coloured candidates from the community applied but were not considered or shortlisted. Their applications were handed in at the Mitchells Plain office and put in a box.

However, commissioner Chris Nissen pointed out that no explanation was given by the department to the 1 000 applicants about the box and what transpired. To get to the bottom of the issue, Nissen conducted various interviews and visited the offices of the department. The investigation took place in February and March.

“Mitchells Plain people were looking for employment opportunities and wanted to be treated fairly. It is not justifiable to appoint all 46 from one group and that not even one person was appointed from the Mitchells Plain community. Even from the 46, only two were appointed in the Mitchells Plain office,” Nissen said.

“The commission can only conclude that the 46 appointed in one grouping undermines the rights of others in Mitchells Plain and therefore constitutes an alleged human rights violation. It will now recommend that the commission makes a thorough investigation into these practices in the provincial Labour Department.”

He reiterated that there were labour implications for requesting a reversal of the appointed 46, adding that an undertaking was given by the department’s chief director that in future demographics would be taken into account. However, he said the department did not keep its promise.

“It has come to my attention that despite the assurances given to me it is now alleged that a number of interns were appointed on April 15.

“This flies in the face of the undertakings that the department will in future have a balanced approach, for it is alleged from a reliable source that out of the 69 interns only three are coloureds, so the saga continues, hence my recommendations that an investigation into Western Cape department be undertaken by the SAHRC as a matter of urgency,” Nissen added.

ANC Western Cape provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said he was concerned about Nissen’s findings and urged the SAHRC to expedite an investigation into the employment practices of the department in the province.

Mawele Ntamo, chief director of provincial operations in the department, said he had taken note of the report and would discuss it at a higher level. He said he would release a detailed response at a later stage.

Mitchells Plain businessman Ricario Brown said that Ntamo and all those implicated in the report must be immediately suspended for the duration of a thorough investigation.

“This is what the department has been doing from the word go. I became aware of the unfair treatment of coloureds when staff at the department moaned about the fact that coloured people were not considered for jobs.

“The ANC has appointed these people in top positions and they must deal with them decisively. This situation has the potential to lead to racial unrest.”

Adams welcomed the findings of Nissen’s report. “We would like to know what happened to the 1 000 applicants who applied for the posts in Mitchells Plain.

“The report from commissioner Nissen is the tip of the iceberg and we believe a deeper investigation will show the large scale of unfair treatment of coloured people.”

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