The litigation terrain is rough and anyone who steps into the arena must accept the field for what it properly is: a theatre of war, or as aptly once referred to as “institutionalised violence”.
Employment disputes quickly become expensive, are long drawn and have the ability to cause reputational risk to both disputing parties and now it would seem that the labour court is frustrated with the conduct of certain legal practitioners, as was the case in Gauteng Department of Health v. Lindiwe Patricia Malatse & Others (J112/20).
This matter typifies the egregious abuse of Court processes and perspicuous and open disobedience of Court orders. Had it not been for the open defiance and mendacious conduct of the first respondent (Lindiwe Malatse) and her legal team the application would not have been conceived. The court was bereft of words to describe the conduct of the first respondent and her legal team. But the Labour Court did not condone the conduct of the first respondent’s legal representative and ordered that the conduct of the advocate be investigated.
The first respondent had been dismissed by the applicant and said dismissal was found to be unfair and the applicant ordered to reinstate the first respondent and pay her a huge sum as back pay. The applicant launched an application seeking to stay the operation of the arbitration award pending the outcome of the review application. The stay was granted by the court and conditioned upon the launching of the review application within 14 days.
Despite this order the first respondent brought a section 143 application to certify the impugned arbitration award. On the 22nd March 2020 the first respondent launched an application seeking to make the arbitration award an order of court. On the 26th January 2021 the first respondent caused the registrar of the Labour Court to issue a writ of execution.
With all these eccentric happenings, the first respondent presented herself for work and was accompanied by her legal representative. The conduct of said representative was despicable beyond measure and it was based on this evidence before the Labour Court that they felt it would be deserving of an investigation by the Legal Practitioners Council.
The Court also noted that the first respondent by forcing to be present at work despite the refusal by the applicant is tantamount to self-help a conduct inimical to the rule of law. Ultimately the conduct becomes one that is not lawful.
The applicant approached the Labour Court to seek an interim interdict pending the outcome of the review application. The Court granted the application and the first respondent was restrained interdicted from presenting herself for duty until the review proceedings are terminated. The first respondent was also ordered to pay the costs of the application. The Court furthermore ordered that a copy of the judgement be placed before the Legal Practitioners Council for consideration of an investigation into the conduct of practitioner Malesela Daniel Teffo.
We wait with abated breath for the sequel to this matter.
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