Metrorail (Prasa) V Satawu obo Ndlovu (JA124/2013) [2016] ZALAC 3 (3 February 2016) per Mngqibisa-Thusi AJA [Ndlovu JA and Landman JA concurring]

Employee found ‘guilty as charged’ of passing a signal; derailing a motor coach; delaying trains and transgressing a working rule.  The train driver, who was already on a final warning, was dismissed on 12 August 2011.  The only issue was whether the train derailed because of faulty brakes or because of negligence.  The arbiter found the reasons for dismissal to be valid and fair.  The employee applied to the Labour Court to review the award.  On 15 August 2013 Masipa AJ set aside the award and reinstated the train driver without any loss of benefits purportedly because no reasonable arbiter could have upheld the dismissal.  On petition by Metrorail the LAC overturned the review judgment, reinstated the award and upheld the dismissal.  But it was completely unnecessary for Metrorail to treat the employee like a ‘criminal’ and ‘charge’ and find him ‘guilty’.  It is a serious infringement of the fundamental right to dignity.  If employers believe that crimes have been committed they should be reported to the police.