A Special Adviser to a cabinet member has secured a victory after the Labour Appeal Court (LAC) ruled for his immediate reinstatement.
The latest ruling confirmed previous judgments which declared that the decision to fire Mzukisi Ndara in 2022 was unlawful.
In April 2022, the Labour Court dismissed with costs the unlawful termination of Ndara’s employment in the office of Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Patekile Holomisa.
The Government and the Department of Correctional Services and Justice were further ordered to pay back a salary shortfall of R254 000, which was unlawfully deducted from Ndara.
After a year-long legal battle and an appeal by the Department of Correctional Services, the Labour Appeal Court ruled that Ndara be reinstated retrospectively with immediate effect.
The ruling effectively handed back the position of Director: Technical Specialist in the office of Holomisa to Ndara on the terms and conditions set out in the contract dated 24 June 2019.
The contract was linked to the five-year term of office of Holomisa.
In the April 2022 ruling, Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker noted that the contract contained provisions of the Public Service Act and the Labour Relations Act which declared that either party may, after consultation and agreement, terminate a contract before the expiry of an original term of office subject to certain conditions.
She said that the termination was unlawful as it was not in accordance with the Labour Relations Act, and Ndara was not afforded an opportunity to be heard.
‘’The respondents have provided no explanation as to why the Audi Clause was not honoured. It is difficult to fathom why, short of exasperation on the part of the respondent, the termination letter was issued without regard to the necessary process being undertaken,’’ said the judge. Shortly after the ruling, the Department re-appointed Ndara, effective from 1 May 2022.
However, he was back for only one month as the Department indicated that it would appeal the court's ruling and also terminate his salary.
The Department said it was complying with the ruling and would engage Ndara.
The Organisation for Undoing of Tax Abuse (Outa) welcomed the court judgment.
In February 2023, Outa wrote to Holomisa, seeking an intervention in a bid to ‘’reduce the unnecessary waste of time and tax-payers resources" in the legal matter.
Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said this week that the organisation was, in general, sick and tired of the government using law-fare as a strategy to remove those standing in the way of maladministration.
‘’The courts should start issuing cost orders to individuals and not to Departments,’’ he added.