Following years of negotiations between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) regarding the SANDF’s old health classification policy that excluded people living with HIV from recruitment, external deployment and promotion in the military, in 2008 the North Gauteng High Court settled the matter. Pursuant to an out of court settlement between the two parties, the Court declared such policy as unconstitutional to the extent that it violated the rights of aspirant and serving members of the SANDF to equality and dignity, among other rights.
The ALP, representing the South African Security Forces Union (SASFU) and three individuals living with HIV, took the SANDF to court to challenge the blanket exclusion of individuals living with HIV. The legal proceedings forced the SANDF to amend its health classification policy with the assistance of the ALP. This process culminated in the adoption of a new improved policy in 2009 in terms of which such blanket discriminatory policy was supposed to have been discontinued.
On Wednesday, 3 July 2013, three different individual applicants, joined by SASFU, and the South African National Defence Union (SANDU) as co-applicants, filed papers before the same Court again challenging continuing HIV discrimination within the SANDF.
SECTION27 (which incorporates the ALP) is acting on behalf of all the applicants in the case, which seeks to overturn the SANDF’s unconstitutional and unfair decision to dismiss the three members from the SA Navy solely on the basis of their HIV status.
The SANDF is justifying its decision not to contract the applicants on the basis that “Your clients contract came to an end by the efluxion of time”
SASFU and SANDU are deeply concerned and therefore condemn the SANDF’s failure to respect a binding decision of the High Court and implement its own 2009 policy that appreciates that being HIV positive does not render an individual unfit to serve in the military. If left unchallenged this decision and other HIV related arbitrary and discriminatory practices in the SANDF have the direct effect of undermining the rule of law in the country, which is enshrined in the Constitution.
Details of press conference:
Date: 9 July 2013
Venue: SECTION27 offices, 5th Floor, Braamfontein Centre, 23 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein.
For further comment, please contact:
Mr. Bheki Mvovo (SASFU President): 082 828-1648
Mr. Pikkie Greef (SANDU National Secretary): 082 573 0082 / 012 323 6465
Mr. S’khumbuzo Maphumulo (SECTION27): 074 133-7926
For the Founding Affidavit please follow the link Founding Affidavit – Dwenga v SANDF