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De Jure

On-line version ISSN 2225-7160
Print version ISSN 1466-3597

De Jure (Pretoria) vol.44 n.1 Pretoria  2011

 

ARTICLES

 

Judicial notice: Discrimination and disadvantage in the context of affirmative action in South African workplaces

 

Geregtelike kennisname: Diskriminasie en benadeling in die konteks van regstellende aksie

 

 

Marié McGregor

BLC LLB LLM LLD Professor of Mercantile Law, University of South Africa

 

 


OPSOMMING

Die artikel ondersoek die vraag of onbillike diskriminasie en die gepaardgaande benadeling van sekere groepe in Suid-Afrika, bewys moet word en of die leerstuk van geregtelike kennisname voldoende is in die konteks van regstellende aksie. Die begrippe en terminologie in die Grondwet van die Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 1996, sowel as gewone wetgewing wat die Grondwet aanvul - die Wet op Gelyke Indiensneming 55 van 1998 en die Wet op die Bevordering van Gelykheid en Voorkoming van Onbillike Diskriminasie 4 van 2000 - word ontleed en uitgelê. Die artikel stel voor dat die land se geskiedenis van onbillike sistemiese diskriminasie gegrond op kolonialisme, apartheid en patriargale praktyke, so welbekend en berug is dat die leerstuk van geregtelike kennisname van toepassing is op regstellende aksie. Voorts, omdat sodanige geskiedenis, die tradisionele oorsake daarvan en uitwerking op swart persone en vroue breedvoerig en volledig gedokumenteer is, word aan die hand gedoen dat die toepassing van die leerstuk kan meehelp om sodanige persone te integreer in die Suid-Afrikaanse werkplek en breër samelewing. Hierdie benadering neem die huidige aspirasies en verwagtinge van die Suid-Afrikaanse bevolking in ag en maak 'n bydrae om die verlede te genees. So 'n benadering ondersteun verder die begrip van substantiewe gelykheid ('n groeps-gebaseerde begrip) en voldoen aan die Grondwet se waarde-gebasseerde metodologie van uitleg. Dit sal ook bydra tot die langtermyn doelwit om 'n nie-rassige en nie-seksistiese samelewing daar te stel. Dit is dus nie nodig om historiese diskriminasie en benadeling te bewys nie omdat sodanige diskriminasie en benadeling nie kontensieus is as 'n sosiale feit nie; dit is inteendeel 'n vraag van kennisname van die geskiedenis omdat dit wyd en volledig gedokumenteer is. Die saak van Minister of Finance v Van Heerden 2004 6 SA 121 (CC) wat verg dat benadeling in die konteks van regstellende aksie "aangetoon" moet word, word ondersteun slegs in soverre inligting voor die hof geplaas word by wyse van byvoorbeeld boeke en verslae. Indien dit nie gedoen word nie, kan die hof uit eie beweging geregtelik kennis neem van onbillike historiese diskriminasie en benadeling. Ten laaste, sou die opvoedkundige, sosiale en ander ekonomiese werklikhede met betrekking tot ras en geslag verander in Suid-Afrika, sal die toepassing van die leerstuk van geregtelike kennisname heroorweeg moet word. Dit sal ook die geval wees waar nuwe diskriminasie en benadeling voorkom en nie goed gedokumenteerd is nie.


 

 

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1 See the Native Land Act 27 of 1913; the Natives (Urban Areas) Act 21 of 1923, later the Natives (Urban Areas) Consolidation Act 25 of 1945; the Native Trust and Land Act 18 of 1936; the Group Areas Act 41 of 1950, later the Group Areas Act 77 of 1957; the Population Registration Act 30 of 1950; the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act 49 of 1953; the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act 55 of 1949; the Immorality Act 23 of 1957; the Promotion of Bantustan Self-government Act 46 of 1959 replaced by the National States Citizenship Act 26 of 1970; the Constitution of Bantu Homelands Act 21 of 1971 ; the Status of the Transkei Act 100 of 1976; the Status of Bophuthatswana Act 89 of 1977; the Status of Venda Act 107 of 1977; the Status of Ciskei Act 110 of 1981 ; the Native Labour Regulation Act 15 of 1911; the Black Labour Relations Regulation (Black Labour and Settlement of Disputes) Act 48 of 1953; the Black Labour (Settlement of Disputes) Amendment Act 59 of 1955; the Mines and Works Act 12 of 1911; the Wage Act 27 of 1956, later the Wage Act 44 of 1937, and still later the Wage Act 5 of 1957; the Public Service Act 54 of 1957, later the Public Service Act 111 of 1984; the Unemployment Insurance Act 53 of 1946, later the Unemployment Insurance Act 30 of 1966.
2 Thompson "Legislating Affirmative Action: Employment Equity and Lessons from Developed and Developing Countries" in Adams (ed) Affirmative Action in a Democratic South Africa (1993) 21 23.         [ Links ]
3 See Liebenberg (ed) The Constitution of South Africa From a Gender Perspective (1995);         [ Links ] Butler Deocracy and Apartheid: Political Theory, Comparative Politics and the Modern South African State (1998); Maylam South Africa's Racial Past: The History and Historiography of Racism, Segregation, and Apartheid (2001); Beck The History of South Africa (2000); Roberts South Africa 194894: The Rise and Fall of Apartheid (1996); Gann and Duignan (eds) Colonialism in Africa, 18701960 , The History and Politics of Colonialism, 1870-1914 (1969); The History and Politics of Colonialism, 19141960 (1970); Jacobs Environment, Power, and Injustice: A South African History (2003); Perry Apartheid: A History (1992); Coleman (ed) A Crime against Humanity: Analysing the Repression of the Apartheid State; Worden The Making of Modern South Africa: Conquest, Segregation, and Apartheid (2000); O'Regan "Addressing the Legacy of the Past: Equality in the South African Constitution" in Loenen and Rodrigues (eds) Non-Discrimination Law: Comparative Perspectives (1999) 13 14; Thompson (ed) A History of South Africa (2001); The Complete Wiehahn Report Parts 1-6 and the White Paper on each Part with Notes by Professor NE Wiehahn chaired by Professor NE Wiehahn (1982); International Labour Conference 73rd Session 1987 Special Report of the Director-General on the Application of the Declaration concerning Action against Apartheid in South Africa International Labour Organisation (1987); International Labour Conference 77th Session 1990 Special Report of the Director-General on the Application of the Declaration concerning Action against Apartheid in South Africa and Namibia International Labour Organisation (1990); International Labour Conference 79th Session 1992 Special Report of the Director-General on the Application of the Declaration concerning Action against Apartheid in South AfricaInternational Labour Organisation (1992).
4 Preamble, Art 1 UN GA Res 3068 (XXVIII), 28 UN GAOR Supp (No 30) at 75, UN Doc A/9030 (1974), 1015 UNTS 243, entered into force 1976-07-18 in accordance with article XV.
5 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
6 Idem s 9.
7 In contrast to formal equality which views individual ability and merit as the only relevant factors required to achieve success in society. See Fredman Women and the Law1997 383; McGregor "The Nature of Affirmative Action: A Defence or a Right?" 2003 SA Merc LJ 421 422-23; De Waal and Currie The Bill of Rights Handbook (2005) 232-34; Du Toit et al Labour Relations Law A Comprehensive Guide (2006) 573-75; Dudley v City of Cape Town 2004 25 ILJ305 (LC); Dudley v City of Cape Town 2008 29 ILJ2685 (LAC).
8 Banton Discrimination (1994) 8.
9 Faundez Affirmative Action: International Perspectives (1994) 34.
10 Davis et al Fundamental Rights in the Constitution: Commentary and Cases (1997) 59;         [ Links ] Adam "The Politics of Redress: South African Style Affirmative Action" (1997) The Journal of Modern African Studies 231 231-34;         [ Links ] UNESC Prevention of Discrimination The Concept and Practice of Affirmative Action Final Report submitted by Mr Marc Bossuyt, Special Rapporteur, in accordance with Sub-Commission Resolution 1998/5 17 June 2002 par 33.
11 See the authorities cited in note 8 supra and note 35 infra for a further discussion on the nature of affirmative action.
12 See Du Plessis Re-interpretation of Statutes (2002) 118.
13 Preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
14 Idem s 1.
15 Idem s 7.
16 Idem s 9(2).
17 Idem s 9(3). In other words, besides the listed grounds namely race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth, other analogous grounds may also exist.
18 Idem s 9(2).
19 Idem s 9(5). The Constitution does provide for a test in the context of proving a claim for unfair discrimination.
20 Bekink Principles of South African Constitutional Law (A Student Handbook) (2003) 107.
21 S 39(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.
22 Idem s 39(2).
23 4 of 2000.
24 55 of 1998.
25 Preamble PEPUDA. PEPUDA does not apply to any person to whom and to the extent to which EEA applies (s 5(3)).
26 S 1 PEPUDA.
27 Idempreamble.
28 Idem s 3(1).
29 Idem s 4(2).
30 Idem s 28(3)(a).
31 Ibid.
32 See par 3 1 1 1 supra.
33 The affirmative action provisions of the EEA apply to people from designated groups only (see ss 1 4(2)). The EEA aims "to achieve equity" in the workplace by implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups in order to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce (s 2). The Act gives some definition of affirmative action measures as follows: "Affirmative action measures are ... designed to ensure that suitably qualified people from designated groups have equal employment opportunities and are equitably represented in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce of a designated employer" (s 15(1)). Affirmative action measures are thus a tool or a means to attain the end of "equitable representivity" in the workplace. It is part of a broader strategy in the effort to promote the achievement of equality as set out in the Constitution and it is a defence to unfair discrimination (s 6(2)(a)); Van Niekerk (ed) Law@work (2008) 135ff; 151ff). The Labour Court stated in Dudley v City of Cape Town 2004 25 ILJ 305 (LC); Dudley v City of Cape Town 2008 29 ILJ 2685 (LAC) that affirmative action does not provide an individual employee with a right to be appointed or promoted and cannot give rise to a claim of enforcement under chapter III of the EEA.
34 Preamble EEA.
35 Idem s 1 EEA. "Black people" is a generic term for Africans, Coloureds, and Indians, whereas "people with disabilities" connotes people with a long-term or recurring physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their prospects of entry into, or advancement in, employment.
36 Idem s 1 EEA.
37 Chinese Association of South Africa v Minister of Labourcase no 59251/ 2007 (TPD). During the 18th and19th centuries large numbers of Chinese people were imported to work in mines in South Africa (Thompson A History of South Africa xxi). Before 1994, Chinese people were classified as "coloureds" but were not included under any of government's benefit programmes after 1994. This led to the Chinese Association of South Africa lobbying for Chinese people to be classified as a designated group in terms of the EEA and to benefit from affirmative action measures. See eg Letter Chinese Association of South Africa to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour to the Department of Labour [undated]. After public hearings by the Portfolio Committee it was recommended that an amendment to the EEA be drafted to ensure that South African citizens of Chinese descent would be recognised as historically disadvantaged (see Letter Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour to Department of Labour dated 19 May 2004; Report of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour on public hearings on employment equity held during May 2003 [undated]). After informal discussions between business, labour and government, it was, however, decided that the issue was of a political nature and could not be supported (see McGregor The Application of Affirmative Action in Employment Law with specific reference to the Beneficiaries: A Comparative Study unpublished LLD thesis UNISA [2005] 56). Since then the Chinese Association has brought a successful application to the (then) TPD for an order to declare Chinese people "disadvantaged." See also fn 36.
38 It is arguable that it may be inferred from this silence in the PEPUDA and the EEA that the legislator has not deemed it necessary for disadvantage and/or its causes to be shown in a historical context. Both laws, like the Constitution, provide for a test in the context of a claim for unfair discrimination (see ss 13 and 11 respectively).
39 See eg Brink v Kitshoff 1996 4 SA 197 (CC) par 40; President of the Republic of South Africa v Hugo 1997 4 SA 1 (CC) par 74; Bel Porto School Governing Body v Premier, Western Cape 2002 3 SA 265 (CC) par 6; Satcwell v President of the Republic of South Africa 2002 6 SA 1 (CC) par 1 7; Minister of Finance v Van Heerden 2004 6 SA 121 (CC) par 22.
40 Brink v Kitshoff 1996 4 SA 197 (CC) par 41.
41 Bato Star Fishing (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism & others 2004 4 SA 490 (CC) par 74.
42 Brink v Kitshoff 1996 4 SA 197 (CC) par 44.
43 Minister of Finance v Van Heerden 2004 6 SA 121 (CC) par 27. See also Hoffmann v SA Airways 2000 21 ILJ2357 (CC).
44 See par 3 supra.
45 2004 6 SA 121 (CC).
46 Idem. See the minority judgements of Mokgoro J (paras 97; 98; 105) and Ngcobo J (par 108) who did not agree that the fund constituted an affirmative action measure.
47 Idem par 37.
48 Idem par 38.
49 Ibid.
50 Idem. See note 53 of the judgement where the Court referred to the "uncontested evidence" by an administrator of the fund before the High Court that the overwhelming majorityof members of Parliament were excluded from parliamentary participation by past apartheid laws on account of race, political affiliation or belief, and were thus disadvantaged by unfair exclusion.
51 Ibid.
52 Idem par 39.
53 Idem par 40.
54 Ibid. Mokgoro J in a minority judgement did not find it necessary to decide the correctness of the test that the majority of members of a category must be people designated as disadvantaged by unfair discrimination (paras 86, 88, 89). She further pointed out that apartheid has categorised people and attached consequences to those categories and in accordance with a person's membership of a group (with no relevance to the circumstances of individuals). Recognising this she stated s 9(2) now allows for affirmative action measures which target "whole" categories of people to be advanced on the basis of membership of a group. In order to benefit from a measure enacted in terms of s 9(2) it is sufficient for a person to be a member of a group previously targeted by the apartheid state for unfair discrimination. On this understanding of s 9(2) she argued it is then clear that the state need not show that each individual member of the advanced group actually suffered past disadvantage, as long as an individual was part of a group targeted (paras 85-86). For arguments why individual members of a favoured category may benefit under affirmative action measures even though they have not been disadvantaged see also Dupper "In Defence of Affirmative Action" 2004 SALJ 187 204-05; McGregor "The concept of 'Disadvantage' and Affirmative Action" 2002 SA Merc LJ 808 812; Auf der Hey de v University of Cape Town 2000 8 BLLR 877 (LC); Stoman v Minister of Safety & Security 2002 23 ILJ 1020 (T). India, for example, and on the other hand, makes provision for this. Individual people who do not share the group characteristics of social, economic or educational backwardness among certain backward classes, the so-called "creamy layer," are not entitled to benefit under affirmative action measures.
55 Schwikkard and Van der Merwe Principles of Evidence (2009) 481-82.
56 Idem 481. Other possibilities in this regard include rebuttable presumptions and presumptions of fact. A rebuttable presumption is a rule of law compelling the provisional assumption of a fact (Zeffert, Paizes and Skeen The South African Law of Evidence (formerly Hoffmann and Zeffert) (2003) 170; Schwikkard and Van der Merwe 478-79).They are provisional in the sense that the assumption will stand unless it is destroyed by countervailing evidence. In other words a fact is presumed unless the contrary is proved by the party against whom the presumption operates (Zeffert, Paizes and Skeen 170-71). Presumptions of fact may be described as "merely frequently recurring examples of circumstantial evidence" or "a mere inference of probability which the court may draw if on all the evidence it appears to be appropriate" (Schwikkard and Van der Merwe 478-80; Zeffert, Paizes and Skeen 168-69). These presumptions appear to be less appropriate in the context of affirmative action because the South African history is notoriously known and has been documented well.
57 Schwikkard and Van der Merwe 479; Zeffert, Paizes and Skeen 715.
58 Schwikkard and Van der Merwe 480-81.
59 Ibid.
60 Ibid.
61 Ibid.
62 Idem 481.
63 Idem 479.
64 Ibid.
65 1958 4 SA 572 (AD) 609ff.
66 Zeffert, Paizes & Skeen 724.
67 1911 AD 635 643.
68 Peirce "A Progressive Interpretation of Subsection 15(2) of the Charter" 1993 Saskatchewan LR263 288-95 from which ideas have been borrowed.
69 See note 3 supra.
70 Rycroft "Obstacles to Employment Equity?: The Role of Judges and Arbitrators in the Interpretation and Implementation of Affirmative Action Policies" 1999 ILJ1411 1423.
71 Du Toit "When does Affirmative Action in Favour of Certain Employees become Unfair Discrimination against Others?" paper presented at a conference on Equality - Theory and Practice in South Africa and Elsewhere at the University of Cape Town January 2001 1 13.
72 Ibid; par 3 supra.
73 Ibid.
74 See par 3 supra.
75 Ibid.
76 See paras 3 1 1 1 - 3 1 3; 3 1 2 1 supra.
77 See note 3 supra.
78 See Dupper 2004 SALJ 187 214-215.
79 See S v Gqozo (2) 1994 1 BCLR 10 (Ck).
80 See par 3 supra.
81 See S v Gqozo (2) 1994 1 BCLR 10 (Ck).
82 See note 8 supra.
83 Minister of Finance v Van Heerden 2004 6 SA 121 (CC) par 44.

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