News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
20 Sep 2017
1:35 pm

SAA discriminated against white men, SAHRC finds

Ilse de Lange

The human rights commission has stressed that affirmative action has to promote social cohesion and not deepen divisions.

Solidarity has welcomed a ruling by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) that South African Airways (SAA) had in the past unfairly discriminated against white males by excluding them from their cadet pilot programme as a major victory for fair human rights.

Solidarity won its appeal after the HRC’s Gauteng provincial office initially ruled that SAA’s cadet programme did not appear to be unlawful.

In its ruling the HRC said a fine balance had to be maintained when it came to the design and implementation of affirmative action programmes to prevent unfair harm being done to white South Africans.

The HRC stressed that affirmative action had to promote social cohesion and reconciliation and not deepen divisions.

Solidarity contended the cadet programme was not flexible and represented a rigid quota system, forcing the taxpayer to pay for the government’s obsession to rigidly apply national racial demographics at all levels, everywhere in South Africa.

The trade union contended the SAA programme was neither rational nor fair due to its inflexibility, and it automatically excluded any white males.

Solidarity’s chief executive Dr Dirk Hermann said even though the cadet pilot programme has since been terminated, the HRC held that it was in the public interest to deal with the merits of the application.

He said the ruling was a major victory and their long battle had been worth it.

“SAA has been found guilty of unfair racial discrimination and, judged against the Constitution and basic requirements for fair human rights, it did not pass the test.

“Unfortunately, their actions caused irreparable damage to young white people who had been excluded from the programme. We trust though that this ruling will pave the way so other young people’s dreams are not destroyed because of their race,” he said.

The HRC referred the matter to the Gauteng provincial office to further deal with it regarding appropriate steps to be taken against SAA.