The Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga has been taken to court on allegations that they illtreated an employee living with a disability.
Dolfread Sihlangu, coordinator of the disability desk at the district, which sits in Mbombela, instituted the discrimination claim, which will be heard in the Johannesburg Labour Court in Braamfontein, Gauteng, on November 9.
Sihlangu, who is virtually imparied, has worked for the municipality for the past six years.
He told African Times that he decided to take the municipality to court after discovering that colleagues holding similar positions within other sections of the municipality were receiving better remuneration and benefits not accorded to him.
“I started working as a disability coordinator at the district municipality at the beginning of November 2017. To this day, my salary remains lower when compared to other coordinators doing similar work within the same municipality that employs us.
“I took the matter to the labour court in December 2019 after exhausting internal procedures and having unsuccessfully petitioned the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration. I am being unfairly discriminated against due to my disability. I have a constitutional right to be compensated like other coordinators in the municipality,” complained Sihlangu.
Sihlangu said that the matter has been in the labour court for a while, but it is only now that it has reached the stage for a trial.
He added that since the case started in 2019, his employer’s lawyers have failed to reach a settlement with his attorney.
“This is why now it is going for a hearing by a judge. I’m currently victimised by being technically demoted, as I am now called a disability officer, which is a lower post than my original post of being a disability coordinator.
“The other coordinators at the municipality enjoy Post Level 5 benefits while I’m stuck at Post Level 8, which has a difference of more than R100,000 per annum. I always need to apply for a travel allowance from the employer, while other coordinators don’t have to go through the same hassle,” said Sihlangu.
Sihlangu said it was painful to see that disabled people are still treated unfairly after South Africa attained its freedom in 1994.
He said he wanted to use his court case as an example to show that it was wrong to discriminate against disabled people in the workplace. According to Section 6 of Act 55 of the South African Equity Act of 1998, no person should be discriminated against based on their disability status.
“No person may unfairly be discriminated against, directly or indirectly, against an employee, any employment policy, or practice on one or 35 more grounds, including disability, race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social oring, colour or social origin, age, HIV status, conscience, belief, political orientation, culture, language, birth, or any other arbitrary ground,” says the Act.
Ehlanzeni district municipality spokesperson Lucky Ngomane has confirmed that the municipality’s lawyers were preparing for the case.
“It is true there is a case between our employee and the municipality’s lawyers. As you know, the matter is subjudice; therefore, we can’t comment,” said Ngomane.