Two female Tshwane Metro Police Department recruits dismissed from training after having their long hair forcibly cut on the parade grounds have taken the Tshwane municipality and two of its top officials to court for allegedly refusing to reinstate them in terms of a 2014 court order.
Former trainees Suzanne Terry and Elizna von Mollendorff are now seeking a court order to force the metro police to reinstate and train them as traffic constables, failing which they want the city’s municipal manager and chief of the metro police jailed for contempt of court.
But the city’s deputy metro police chief Lekgantshi Tleane said in an opposing affidavit the city was not obliged to comply with the 2014 court order while an appeal process was pending and was now unable to comply with the court order as the training programme no longer existed and the city could not be forced to enter into a new training agreement with the two women.
He said the parties have entered into settlement discussions, which are still pending. Terry and Von Mollendorff in June 2014 obtained an urgent court order declaring the termination of their training agreements unlawful and forcing the city to reinstate them in the training programme.
The city failed in several attempts to overturn the ruling, with the Supreme Court of Appeal in October last year dismissing its application for leave to appeal.
The two women were dismissed from the training programme five months after an incident when an instructor forcibly cut their hair when they refused to cut it short. The instructor was fired after being found guilty of assault, but was later reinstated pending an appeal.
The women were kicked out of the programme for failing to obey a lawful order, but they maintained their hair length was within the limits of the metro police policy and that the instruction had been unlawful. Pieter de Beer, a labour relations officer of trade union Imatu, which is assisting the women, said in court papers they were repeatedly sent home when they reported to recommence their training. They were at one stage allowed to do administrative work and continued to receive a “stipend”, but all payments were stopped at the end of May this year. He maintained the city and its officials were intentionally defying the court order.