A law professor from the University of the Western Cape’s Community Law Centre says a Boland town’s Community Policing Forum (CPF) forcing workers to apply for a so-called ‘green card’ is discriminatory and should be challenged. This comes after news reports this week that Worcester’s CPF is forcing workers in the town to apply for the card in order to be able to find work in upmarket areas.
The system was introduced in June 2014 and has been condemned by trade federation Cosatu and invited an investigation by the Human Rights Commission.
“If it’s in a public area, if it’s not for security measures and if there is no imminent threat to the lives of the people living in that area then it would be wrong to deny access to the public area. The constitution is clear on this, every individual is deemed to be equal before the law. To undermine the provision of the equality clause would be deemed unconstitutional,” said Professor Ebenezer Durojaye, a socio-economic law expert.
Durojaye said residents and any person told to apply to enter these areas have several options that may aid them in challenging the imposed barriers. Those who felt aggrieved could take the matter to the Human Rights Commission.
“It is discriminatory, to deny [people] access to a public place when others have access,” he said.
Durojaye also believes that often in rural areas, and towns not near metropolitan hubs, working class South Africans often are not aware of their rights and are not capable of challenging imposed rules that may be in violation of those rights.
“There is a challenge in people not knowing their rights, and them knowing when their rights are being violated. The other side of it is that their rights are then violated without any consequence, and in a democratic society that is a very dangerous trend.”
Cosatu’s Tony Ehrenreich earlier this week called the green card a return of the Apartheid era ‘dompas’ that workers needed to carry with them in order to work in areas they did not reside in.
The DA has also stepped into the fray now, with the party’s parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane tweeting this week that the ‘green card’ was “discriminatory and an apartheid type action”.
The Western Cape Department of Community Safety now wants to pressure Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer to put an immediate stop to the green card campaign, and to conduct a full investigation into the conduct of the local SAPS and CPF in Worcester. VOC (Andriques Che Petersen)