File photo: ANA.
Pretoria - The country’s deputy director of public prosecutions (DDPPs) were being mistreated by government and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regarding salaries and related benefits, a judge said on Wednesday.

Judge Cornelius Van der Westhuizen said that this was despite the fact that the legal eagles were crucial in ensuring the wheels of justice turned daily.

The DDPPs and chief prosecutors, through the Public Servants Association, challenged the NPA and the ministries of justice, public service and administration as well as finance before the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. They accused the ministers of not honouring their promises of better salaries and benefits.

They said there was a collective agreement made in July 2007 that they were entitled to and would receive all the benefits associated with the implementation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation extended to legal professionals within the justice cluster.

Other legally qualified employees within the justice cluster received the benefits in 2007, apart from the DDPPs and chief prosecutors.

This group, who have fallen financially behind their juniors as a result, have been fighting for an increase and benefits for more than a decade.

Although the remuneration was eventually approved in 2014 after a lengthy battle by the State's senior legal professionals, former head of the NPA, advocate Shaun Abrahams, refused that it be implemented.

The group now wants to hold the NPA and government accountable.

The NPA (while Abrahams was in charge) and former justice minister Michael Masutha, from the start vowed to fight the application.

It was this week noted that new NPA head Shamila Batohi “reluctantly” proceeded to oppose it.

It was argued on behalf of the applicants that their labour rights were infringed while their colleagues benefited from the Occupational Specific Dispensation. It was said that there was nothing in law which justified this discrimination.

Apart from opposing the application, no clear reasons were forwarded from the respondents as to why they went back on their word not to implement the salary increases.

Judge Van der Westhuizen said he was shocked by this attitude of especially the NPA towards its senior personnel that rendered services which enabled it to hold its head high.

He reserved judgment in the matter.

Pretoria News